Monday, August 8, 2011

Every literary writer needs to read this web comic.

Assuming I ever finish another novel and then attempt to get another agent, I'm going to make myself a nice little web site. Nothing fancy; just a place with information about me, how to contact me, a decent photo of myself, and a prominent link to this blog. You know the kind of site I'm talking about.

I've already considered what I'd like to say about myself on such a site, and the most important thing I think I can say about my writing -- my style and what I hope to achieve -- is to list my major influences. We all have influences, and I think it's important for a writer to understand how and why each of hers affects her writing. Right alongside my usual rogue's gallery of literary influences (Nabokov, Fitzgerald, Oates, Atwood, Martin, etc.) I intend to place a name you've never heard before, but you should have heard it, because Chris Onstad is one of the best writers of literary fiction living and working today.

You've never heard of him because he doesn't write novels or short stories. He writes a web comic.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A long poem.

Here's something I wrote for my last weekly writers' group meeting. It's a long poem, and it was my first attempt with poetry to not just capture a moment or a feeling or an idea, but to relate a separate, unaffiliated aspect of my life to an internal aspect of my life. I think in that sense it was successful. It's not my best piece of writing ever, but I'm proud of it because I set a goal and achieved it, and because it's long, and I haven't written this many useful words in months.

My writers' group is great. We're a small crowd and I'm the only one in it who has aspirations to be published someday (although not the only one who has the skills to be published!) but the critiques are fantastic. And they're good friends, too. I think everybody needs a good writers' group.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Freedom! The divorce was finalized yesterday. After all the time it's taken and the many disappointments along the way, I was not expecting it to be rubber-stamped and John-Hancocked as (relatively) quickly and smoothly as it was.

I hope this takes some of the strain off me so I'm able to write again. My writing has been almost non-existent for months due to all this stress. When it has been existent, it's been abysmal. Really terrible. I haven't written anything useful or that I could even consider keeping since April. This is very frustrating for me. Over the past several months I've basically given up any hope for having a writing career. I'm not sure why I was trying in the first place, to be honest. My writing has been just total shit for months, and I believe maybe it always was. There is still a tiny fragment of my brain that still thinks I can write and that still wants to have a career; the majority of my brain is just sluggish, all dead weight and fuzz, and I have no idea why I ever thought I could write in the first place.

In nine days things should be looking up for me considerably. I'll be very busy, so I may lack the time to write for several weeks, but I have a very small hope that this doubting of my capabilities and my future are just depression, and will lift once my life picks up a little once more, once all my free time and energy is no longer occupied by the divorce, by dealing with my ex's drama, and by frantically trying to come up with a little extra money every month to make ends meet. I have been under an extreme amount of stress, and that's probably what's making me feel so negative and listless. It's probably not really true that I suck at writing and should give up now. But it's hard to remember that sometimes.

Anyway, in September I'll be on a much-needed road trip. I am looking forward to a change of scenery and some serious mental stimulation...two things I desperately need for all aspects of my mental health, not just for my writing.

I will also be quitting my job next week, and while it sucks to face joblessness again, I think this job has been a big part of the no-writing problem for me. It provides me with no creative stimulation at all. I really need some interaction with people in order to write. I need an environment that changes...whether I'm actually going places, or working outside with changing weather, working with animals with their changing behavior, or even seeing different customers and co-workers every day, as in my retail jobs...I just need some variety in my life in order to be optimally productive...or productive at all. The job I've been working at since April has allowed me to pay the bills, and that's been important, of course. But I am ready for a job that gives me more than just a reliable paycheck. I need a job that doesn't crush my self-esteem by making me feel like I've wasted my entire life thinking that I can write at all. So I don't really care what job I take next, although I hope it's another job in zoo keeping, and if it's not, I hope it's got some creative elements in it. I have a few ideas, and hopefully they'll pan out.

Anyway, the important thing for now is that the biggest problem in my life has been largely solved, at long, LONG last. I am feeling cautiously optimistic. I even randomly composed a few nice sentences in my head the other day, something I realized as I did it that I haven't actually done for months. Maybe that's a sign that my writing will return to me. Maybe it's not. I don't know; I'm not even sure I can write anymore. But it's a change, and I'm taking any changes right now to be good things.