I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret: I like to procrastinate. If I don’t have an idea for the Saturday blog that thrills me, I’m perfectly willing to wait and see if something fresh pops up Saturday morning (which is still Friday night in the Americas, so something fresh often does pop up in people’s exuberance for the weekend). Procrastination often serves me well.
But when it doesn’t, it’s awful. A ton of pressure to produce 500 words of crap . . . I could have done that Thursday afternoon and saved myself the pressure!
And then there’s today, when something so wonderful happens that all thoughts of writing and blogging are driven out of my mind.
It’s interesting to think about how stories grab our attention and propel us along through the pages until the end.
When I was a kid, I read mostly fantasy and fairy tales. The point was to find out what happened – although, I often cheated and checked out the last pages of the book to make sure it was a happy, satisfying ending. Even as a very young reader, I wanted a HEA, and I disliked cliffhangers – after all, I was in a small town 90 miles away from a Waldenbooks, so if there was a sequel, I needed to know I could get it soon.
But the romance genre isn’t really about the ending; it’s about the journey. Most romance writers make sure the reader knows who the main couple is, and it’s not in the romance genre unless the writer establishes a relationship that looks like it is going to last.
OK, digression, some romance writers like to play with the genre. I’m thinking of Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion. If you haven’t read it, it’s a masterclass in playfulness. SPOILER: there is a HEA, but it’s not with the delightful, handsome rogue.
I’m reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel this week. It’s about Thomas Cromwell in the time of Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn. It won the 2009 Man Booker Prize, and the language is a bit dense (though very smooth and easy to read). The plot is not a thrill a minute, and the writer stays far away from the romance between Henry and Anne . . . because we all know it’s going to turn out with Anne getting her head chopped off.
Well, it’s been a little more than a year of lock-downs and warnings, sickness and death, constriction and austerity as a result of the global pandemic sparked by the COVID-19 virus. Big, big changes. Have you had enough space to see how this is all affecting your writing?
For me, I’ve seen a shift to smaller casts – people with more localized problems, and only two to four people in a story. You can see this with my Christmas story last year – a crappy boss, a heroine wallowing in loneliness, a mystery man passed out on the pavement, and a touch of Mother. This is
Harlan Ellison, an SFF writer, at least once said when asked that he got his ideas from Poughkeepsie. “$25 a Week and they send me a fresh six-pack of new ideas fifty-two times a year” (Shatterday: Stories by Harlan Ellison).
Where do you get your ideas?
I’m getting mine from the cats these past few months.
Our new cat, Princess Charlotte, looks like a Norwegian Forest cat or a Maine Coon cat. Both breeds are friendly, chatty giants with long fur and athletic ability. Princess Charlotte (or Charli for short) showed up in our barn on February 15.
She holds herself like a princess, but attacks dem fishies like a warrior queen. And Norwegian Forest cats come with their own mythology and legends, so it’s natural
It’s a season of change, and here winter and spring are still fighting the March battle for dominance. The days are springlike, but the nights are clear and frigid. Tomorrow, we’ll get both snow and rain, if the weather report is right. Blow, winds, blow, and bring in the new.
I’ve had a lousy year so far for . . . well, just about everything. But this week was a good one. I did some spring cleaning, I planted most of the bulbs I should have planted last autumn, and I did some writing. If I read a book tomorrow during the inclement weather, it’ll have been a very good week indeed.
Hope your week is going well, too, and the changing energy recharges your batteries and gives you a nice chance for a reset!
March: In like a lion’s tale, out like a lamb’s whisker . . . or something like that. What a story of woe I have, but it’s a very common one. My computer crashed and burned at the beginning of March. The trackpad had been wonky for months (a whole year?), so I should have known this was coming, but the Lenovo Idea Pad wasn’t even three years old, so I thought I had time.
This week on my corner of Twitter, there’s been a lot of discussion about copyright, and how long it should last. Someone suggested 30 years after publication! (See below.) The discussion isn’t about a real-world change in laws, as far as I can tell, but a what-if scenarios that may stem from the Dr. Seuss estate pulling some of the Seuss books with racist imagery. As a lot of internet conversations do, the discussion has drifted from the original “problem” to a lot of different ideas about how to do things. Some “solutions” are silly, some are impractical but some have brought up some great tangential points.
In my corner of Twitter, Dr. Seuss wasn’t even mentioned. I’ll get into that later. The reason why it caught my attention is that most writers I know there are extremely concerned about their rights, their old age, and taking care of dependents who may not be able to take care of themselves.
In general, writers are also readers, and many readers would like to be writers. So, I would say there’s a significant minority of readers who see both sides of the copyright problem.
In America right now, copyright is for the life of an author plus 70 years. (For all the ifs, ands and buts, visit Copyright.gov. The website is a cornucopia of copyright facts in America.) It’s basically the same in the UK, but I’m sure there are some different details. (British Library) In Japan, it’s the lifetime of the author plus 50 years. (Page 5 of this PDF) The problem for me as a reader
Every month has a chance for romance, but there’s something about the shortness and sweetness of February, what with the increasing daylight in the northern hemisphere, and the lengthening of nights in the south, and the abundance of chocolates and roses thanks to Valentine’s Day, that sets a particular mood.
My husband and I celebrate our own meet cute this month – he went to a Valentine’s Day dance with a group of his fellow exchange students, and I popped in quickly after some sort of event (concert? movie? art gallery? I just can’t remember), and saw this guy with a million dollar smile.
It was late winter, and it was the season when Melly’s lake was soft and slushy during the day, and frozen hard during the still-long nights. It was an unpleasant time of year, but one that reminded her that spring would surely come, and she’d be swimming in the green bottoms all day soon. But now, there was nothing to do. She combed her long red hair and sang across the surface. She shut her eyes and let the waxing sun warm her lids and her tail fins, still covered in short winter-white fur dappled with black spots near the tips. Nobody but a complete fool would come out here today.
Her song was interrupted by the crack of ice and a yell for help; she sighed. One should not underestimate the number of fools in the world, she thought, and went to see who had fallen into the ice.
She swam across the lake, under the frozen ice. It was a young man in velvet and furs, and he was floating face down in the cold, cold water. Melly paused and thought of her mother.
“You must sing every day and keep in good practice. Your voice is your weapon, and with it, you will lure strangers to their death. Smash them upon the rocks, or they will surely steal you away from here and kill you,” Priscilla had said.
February, the shortest month of the year! The coldest two weeks of the year in my area; I’m sure some of our southern-hemi friends find it the most miserable hot days of the year. So short, yet so packed with inspiration for writing!
First up, Groundhog Day in the US. It’s come and gone, but if the groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, it’s supposed to get scared, run back to its hole, and there will be six more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, though, the groundhog will play around, and there will be an early spring.
This reminds us that it’s fun to play with opposites in a story. Does our heroine have a terrible, awful life, and then get hit by a car, only to wake up as Queen of the Vampires (MaryJanice Davidson, Undead and Unwed)? Or does she have a happy, sunny life, suddenly get pelted with unsuitable suitors who make her life miserable, but after six weeks of BS (OK, six months or so), discover that one of the suitors loves her deeply and would rescue her wayward sister for her . . . and she loves him (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)?