Friday, October 26, 2012

Writing is Eating Ice Cream Out of the Tub

Writing fiction = Staring at blank screen wondering which word to use next. Seriously, is it any wonder there are writers groups? We need support. We need pats on the head. We need ice cream out of the carton and the biggest spoon in the drawer.

I'm not a nervous, overwrought writer. The opposite. I get antsy when I haven't written in a while. Makes me agitated. I haven't the slightest clue how I got that way. When people ask me why I started writing a book, I say, 'I just felt like writing.' (remember the line from Forest Gump?) I got a bee in my bonnet. More like, I got a beehive in my britches.

But, I have had writer's block recently. I'm not sure I would diagnose it as a true case of writer's block. I want to write, but ... Not going to elaborate much on the dot, dot, dot except to say that if you have been there before, you know exactly what the dot, dot, dot could mean. Fatigue, negativity, real work. Bah, real work! I challenge the notion that writing is not real work. It'll lay you flat. Take every bit of energy you have, and leave you with an unfinished project. There's no tidy ending to a piece of writing. It might get published, but there's always something you'll want to make better or change.

So, rather than run the risk of neurosis, check out one of these. In Portland, there's no shortage of people to shore up the crazed inkhead. There are more than this. Let me know if you want to add one.

The Attic
Willamette Writers
Oregon Writers Colony
Dangerous Writers/Tom Spanbauer (also Google it)
Multnomah Arts Center
LitReactor (somewhat connected to Portland)
Rose City Romance Writers (RWA)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fifty Shades of a Shooting Star

Today is my two-year blogging anniversary. Hip, hip, hoorah. Confetti, horns, balloons, assorted snorts and giggles. What better to write about on an anniversary than sex?

This is not a usual topic for me. But I had to write a blogpost with the word Shades in the title. SEO, you know. No, seriously, are you surprised that sex still sells? How does the quip go? "Even bad sex is good sex."

I'm not suggesting Fifty Shades of Grey is bad. I haven't read it. I may or may not get around to it. I'll likely not pay for it if I do read it. From what I've read in reviews, I'd be better off borrowing a copy. I'm not knocking the topic of sex or S&M here. It's just not high on my reading list. But, apparently, it's on many others'. Fifty Shades is listed 1, 2, and 3 on the NYT bestsellers list along with two or three other books written by romance writers. I don't have a leg to stand on if I want to stand against the tide.

Still. My sensibilities, as a woman and a writer, tread a little less salaciously. I found Edgy Mama's review of Shades more my speed. But, Edgy is writing books about beer -- not romance.

Shades is erotica, and there are plenty of good erotic writers on the planet. Shades won the lottery. I occasionally will read erotica for ideas (I'm not blushing; see The Erotic Writer or find your own source). It's true. Sex makes money. Romance novels hold a significant market share (somewhere between 10-13 percent of book sales).

I've written sex scenes. My first novel is basically a romance, although I break with genre conventions more than not. But I wanted my sex scenes to read like poetry. I tell friends: I don't name parts (of the body; at least, the most conspicuously sexual ones). Try it. It's harder than it sounds. Romance writers I've bummed around with admit that sex scenes can be tough to write. Even the NYT Book Review wrote a piece once about the big literary giants falling flat in that arena (no pun intended; see The Naked and the Conflicted, 01/03/2010).

So, let Fifty Shades have its day in the sun. If it burns a few asses (oops, I broke my parts rule), chalk it up to the shooting-star syndrome. A book phenomenon that's bright but brief.