Writing Wednesday: Sneaky Peek

I decided to change my weekly Wednesday post just a bit.

Where normally, you would find me talking (mostly) about my WIP(s), now I will also include all things writerly, including writing news from my BFFs, my fellow TCA peeps, my tweeps and any other VIPS :)

Have no fear, however, dear readers. I'll bore you with one of my WIP updates later today (I just thought the interview below deserved its own post free from my signature brooding). Things are happening – at a snail's pace, mind you – but I'm still plugging away. Hey…..every little bit counts, right?

Anyway…..as many of you know, Barry Napier is kicking you-know-what and taking names in the dark fiction & poetry world. Exciting things are abound for the lad, and he took some time to give me the inside scoop on his first comic, Birdwatching From Mars.

Do be sure to check out Parts One & Two of my interview with Barry.

If you want to peek even further into the mind of Mr. Napier, he also shared a bit about his writing process. I love hearing about how my fellow authors come up with ideas, seeing their workspaces, getting the lowdown on how their minds work. And short of taking a roadtrip to Barry's place so I can see his Manly Man Writing Cave, this is the next best thing :) Enjoy!

* * * * *

Getting published is a fantastic rush. Seeing your friends get their writing published is just as exciting! So, when my musical kindred spirit Barry Napier continued to announce one acceptance after the other recently, I decided it was time to get the inside scoop on how his creativity flows.

Q: How does dabbling in different mediums impact your creativity? Is it beneficial or do you feel overwhelmed by ideas?

BN: Recently, I've been writing tons of poetry.  Not only is it a fun creative exercise, but it sort of purges me of over-descriptiveness.  I have a bad habit of over-explaining things in my fiction.  I'll find myself in the midst of this gory violent scene and I somehow turn it into morbidly poetic prose.  Writing poetry has helped me fix this in terms of my fiction…it sort of gets channeled into the short story writer in me.

For example, I currently have a poetry manuscript that I'm shopping around that has a very odd narrative woven throughout it.  So in one way, it can read as a collection of poems and nothing more.  But at the same time, it can also read as this very quick novella in a way.  I'm working on another project like this at the moment that is more fiction based, yet still poetry.  It's been a lot of fun to experiment with things like this and, as a result, I find that I am constantly challenging myself to be a better writer without meaning to do so.As far as being overwhelmed, I don't really get that much.   Sometimes I just have to set one project on the back burner for a while.  But I think having numerous active projects actually helps stir up my creativity…particularly in working with different genres.  It doesn't leave room for barriers or excuses.

Q: How do you handle the scheduling of working on so many varied mediums? Do you plan to work on a story or poem on any specific day, or do you go where your creativity takes you?

BN: No schedules for me.  It really is a matter of going wherever creativity takes me.  The great thing about trying my hand at so many different venues is that if I don't have time in the day to really get involved in a novel or short story, I can always jot out the rough draft to a poem.  And with novels or short stories, having so many active projects is beneficial because if you hit a wall in one, you know that there are a few other options to resort to.

This also has a downside, obviously.  I have two novels-in-progress that have been active for over two years and haven't really seen much growth in a few months because I get other ideas that seem much more important at the time.

I don't allow myself to schedule my writing.  If I force myself to work on something in particular while my mind is wandering to other projects, I have found that the result is poor.  So I write whatever strikes me that day.  It's very similar to chainsaw juggling, I suppose.

Q: Tell me about your recent/upcoming releases & acceptances

BN: First and foremost I am incredibly excited to have recently had my novel The Bleeding Room picked up by Graveside Tales.  It's a book I spent about 2.5 years working on, so it's nice to see it find such a great home.

I'm also still reeling from having Strange Publications release my chapbook The Final Study of Cooper M. Reid.  There are still a few signed, hand lettered copies available.

I have been incredibly fortunate in 2010.  I've had an overwhelming number of poetry acceptances from a wide variety of venues: These Apparitions: Reflections of Ezra Pound, Breadcrumb Scabs, Nefarious Ballerina, Kaleidotrope, and Pedestal just to name a few.
I'll also have fiction appear in the Norton Hint Fiction Anthology and InkSpill Magazine a little later this year.

There's also a very good chance I may have another big announcement later in the year regarding a release in late 2010 or early 2011, but I've been told to keep it hush-hush for now.

The best way to keep up with such news is to frequent my blog.

===========

If you want to know more about Barry and his upcoming comic book, Birdwatching From Mars, follow Barry on Twitter or hit up the BFM blog.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Barry! Here's to your continued success!

World Domination

MissWrite.netIn an effort to further my plans of World Domination, I have secured MissWrite.net.

Right now it forwards to my articles as Toronto Writing Examiner, but I hope to expand it and build a full website, highlighting all my writerly pursuits (including my fiction & copy writing).

You would think all of these endeavors would burn me out (and occasionally they do), but I love writing ever so much, and being able to explore it in all its facets makes me the happiest girl!

Today, I'm working on that totally-crazy-so-not-me-yet-devilishly-addictive story idea I mentioned. Chris (my fiancee) gets a little impatient because when I'm working on something new, I don't like to share many (read: ANY) of the details until I have at least gotten the first draft down.

By then, I am usually stuck, and like to bend his ear for tidbits to unstick myself, but right now, I am holding my cards close to my chest because I lovelovelove this idea and really want to find the words to make it work. Eep!

When you get a story idea, how do you keep yourself from falling too much in love with it (just in case it doesn't go the way you hoped or envisioned)? Or do you think you do have to have that level of intensity about every story to make each one a success?

Moving Rocks

Have you ever realized how writing a story can be similar to a game of Jenga?

After putting together a bunch of building blocks (including an intriguing premise, snazzy characters and some twists and turns to keep the reader occupied), you hope your story is solid enough to stand on its own.

Sometimes, though, you must pick and pull at various parts of it to make things right. And if you aren't careful, it can all come tumbling down into a big ol' mess.

How does this apply to me? I've been having some trouble with one of my WIPs. The story just doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and I've already invested almost 1000 words into it.

When one of my fellow writers, Jamie, got talking about moving rocks and the resulting shift in water patterns, it rang true – and reminded me of Jenga. Because the moment I pulled out the bad parts, changed my main character, and added some new pieces back into the mix the story seemed to unstick itself again.

Granted, I had to do a little more tweaking to make my minor character into someone more worthy of carrying the story, but luckily I had my trusty worksheets to brainstorm with. (Seriously – I am a worksheet fiend.)

So, just as it happened in Jamie's yard, I moved around some stones and the water is flowing again. Woot! If you need some worksheets to add detail to the backgrounds and motivations of your characters, I actually just did an article about it today. Serendipity!

Photo: Samantha Villagran

[NWC]

Freelance Life Recap – Feb. 21

Clay!I've fallen off the wagon in many respects here, dear readers.

I'm still freelancing, but everything else has suffered. I did manage to open up a few of my stories this past week. But I quickly felt lost, completely taken out of the flow of words and not inspired at all.

Whether the stories are just not holding my attention or I just feel like I'm staring at a big chunk of clay that needs some serious slicing and shaping (and punching), I seem to have hit a slump that I don't see any way out of yet.

So, what do I do? Use it. I've got a few articles on writer's block coming up this week (if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?).

I'm trying to get some of my week's work done today so I can sit my butt at my writing desk all week and make some progress. Because there is nothing worse than feeling like everything you've written sucks and you will never have a good idea again.

Which brings me to my favorite article this week. It actually comes from last week – Develop a story idea in five minutes.

Sometimes, after working all day, I end up feeling as though it's "too late" to dive into writing. I see this as sort of a self-defeating mindset, as you have all heard my talk of being an insomniac (and there really isn't any right or wrong hour of the day to write). Why I do this to myself, I don't know. Laziness, fear of suckage, what have you. But I figure I should take my own advice, and let this method of quick writing sprints get me back into the flow of writing.

So, how do you beat writer's block? How do you conquer that nagging voice in your head that tells you that you are no good? What's the longest you've gone without writing anything new?

I do know one thing that can only help – chocolate. Email me if you need my mailing address.

If you missed 'em, my other writing articles this week include a few on travel writing (both from home and abroad), a boot camp for writers who need a little discipline (like me) and one on how using your unique writer's voice can translate into sweet book sales.

[NWC]

Freelance Life Recap – Week 2

It's only my second recap week (although I did write a few articles at the end of December) and I've already learned a lesson: it's easy to burn yourself out.

I knew this already. I learned this when I used to run an online shop selling beaded jewelry & knitted/crocheted items that I made. You wear different hats when you work for yourself. Designer, marketer, sales, technical support, website developer, etc. You have no choice.

It's the same with freelance writing. If I don't tell anyone about my pieces, no one will know. At the same time, no one wants to hear me only talking about myself. 

So, this week, I found myself trying to balance the workload with networking, as well as keeping in touch with my writing friends and doing a little personal writing on the side.

I did alright. I feel like my online life – blogging, Tweeting, interacting – has suffered a bit, which may seem like a good thing productivity-wise, but those relationships are about more than just screwing around online all day. I'm hoping that once I get into a good groove, I'll be able to balance everything better.

On that note, regardless of how busy I've been, I'm still having fun writing for Examiner! I've been getting positive feedback and it's great that people are enjoying my work.

Here's a quick recap of my articles for the week. Don't be scared – most aren't too long ;)

I'd love it if you could take a peek, maybe post a comment or vote in a few of the Lunchtime Polls!

Thanks again for reading! I should also have some exciting news to share soon – just waiting for it to be official!

[NWC]

Freelance Life Recap – Week 1

Although I started writing for Examiner.com over the holidays and I didn't post as many articles as I wanted to, I am really enjoying it!

It's amazing how may events and interesting tidbits I've come across already for local writers, and I look forward to spotlighting more signings, classes and, especially, more local authors.

In case you need to get caught up, here are my latest articles so far:

Watch for weekly recaps starting this Sunday (I was a day late – getting back into post-holiday routine and all) as well as a series this week featuring submission tracking software for writers.

Thanks again for all the clicks and comments on my articles so far. My success as Toronto Writing Examiner depends not only on my contributions but feedback from readers as well. So I appreciate you taking the time to read my work. Thank you for getting me excited to sit at my desk and write everyday!

[NWC]