A Relationship Takes Work

Writing is a relationship. I’m a little afraid to jinx it, but writing is going well, lately. I’m definitely all over it, trying to figure out why it’s going well so that I can replicate the situation, environment, and mindset for the next time writing becomes challenging.

I’m not sure if it was like this for all my schoolmates, but during my time in conservatory and thereafter, I was rather… down-to-earth and business-like in making a career and making money from music. In other words, keeping the passion and love alive was definitely not on my priority list.

Being “professional” was sorta drilled into your skull at all costs. (I am a rare bird in that I remember my time in conservatory fondly. The majority of my friends spent about a decade “getting over” the experience. When I was there, they hired a full-time psychiatrist to help students deal.)

I remember one friend being rather proud of herself for being down-to-earth enough to realize that “it’s a job, just like any other.”

It worked, honestly. I think C.I.M. boasts that 90% (around there) of their alumni make their living in music. But personally, I got burnt out. That was my fault, not C.I.M.’s. I sometimes cut corners out of what I loved about being a musician and teacher in order to make money.

Bad idea. It kills your enthusiasm, stresses you out, and burns you out, which, long-term, gives you less profit.

With writing, I’ve been careful to take the opposite approach: I protect the writing at all costs. I am trying to nurture my enthusiasm. I refuse to settle. Sure, what I’ve learned about making money in the arts is up there in my head, and I can’t completely turn it off (and perhaps my approach only works because of this), but my focus is on having fun and loving story and giving fiction everything I’ve got.

So I’m very careful to monitor what motivates me and what does not. Writing is going awesome at the moment. It’s erotica, though. I’ve got to figure out how to apply that to a NY-able genre.

Another big difference is that I have a lot more on my plate to write. And people already want it. That makes a big difference for my motivation.

Oddly, I have some deadlines coming up, but I’m writing as if I have none—and writing faster because of it. I’m just spending every second I can writing because I can’t wait to get back to my world and my characters.

I forgot what this was like.

I’ve been going to the movies a lot. That’s important for me. I love story, and in a movie I can disappear in it. When I read, it’s a little like working. I analyze too much while reading, so movies help me disappear in story.

I’m trying to remember these things, so I can keep the love alive.

How do you keep the love alive in your relationship with writing? What motivates you the most?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: , ,

No More Grind

Writing is going much better. I’m back to fiction, exclusively, at least for the next two months or so. (Although I’ll probably put my Kindle project on the Kindle. Why not? I’ll continue that series in a day or two.) Nothing like doing something you don’t like to remind you how much love what you do like.

I’ve noticed, over the years, that I have a tendency to write a ton in summer and fall, and dry up a bit in the spring. Isn’t that weird? Maybe it’s because the summer solstice has been approaching, but I’ve been feeling much better.

Whenever I go through a dry spell, and I really go through about one a year (even if I’m still writing during it), I always fear this is how it will be forever.

But this time, I have a few new rules for myself.

No more grind. When I grind words out and write things that aren’t who I am or what aligns with the universe’s plan for me, everything dries up and writing becomes a chore. If I can’t bring a little enthusiasm and spirit to the table, forget it.

No more practical ideas. I used to believe that I could write any idea. Probably I can, but that quickly turns into the grind. From now on, I refuse to waste my time on projects that don’t capture my heart and imagination. My imagination has to want escape to the world I’m writing in.

Oddly, I’ve learned a couple things about myself. I would be very hesitant to say I write fantasy, but my best work has fantasy leanings. I need to embrace that side of me more.

And the other thing, when all my ideas seem to be lackluster and I lose your mojo, it WILL come back. It really will. Eventually. I always fear it won’t.

So what did you learn during your last dry spell? How do you get through them? And what rules do you have to protect the writing?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags:

It Which Must Not Be Named

You know what I’m talking about, right? We don’t say those words. We don’t want to give it power by believing in its existence. We wouldn’t want to… summon it by accident.

For WIP #2, all I have is my main character’s name. Yes, that’s the sum total of my NaNo novel, of which the rest I have completely scrapped. What I wrote didn’t work. I don’t know what. Maybe it was the world, the other characters, the tone, the genre… I have no idea.

All that junk was cluttering up this novel’s room, and it needed a blank slate. So today I deleted it for good. Trash can and everything.

Yes, sometimes we crave the blank page again.

She’s special, I can tell. I keep trying on different clothes, different settings, different plots. Nothing is fitting.

This morning, I got a sentence. It’s a sentence that says everything about who she is:

“I’m not going to fill your fuckin’ mold,” she said.

A sentence! Woo-hoo!

Phew. I’m so relieved I could celebrate a day’s hard work because I got a sentence.

But I need to get back on my 5K a day program. I know that was years ago, but I need it back.

So I’m sitting here. I sometimes force myself in a chair for three hours, internet off, WIP open, and tell myself I’m not allowed to move for three hours. And I’m trying jobs on her, trying cities, trying genres, trying ages, trying situations.

A little niggle suddenly makes me wonder if she was talking to me when she said she wasn’t filling any molds.


I can see the appeal of stepping back and pretending our characters are fully-realized humans before we met them, that we’re just conduits or whatnot. Maybe I should try it: Hi, nice to meet you.

Both my WIPs are in the “sputtering” stage, where I can’t even write complete sentences yet. No whole pages polished, no chapters finished, nothing. Just a bunch of stutters.

Glenn is sick. If they send him home, then I really must write faster. Amazing how desperation helps you write faster. Needing the money has always pulled me through, except when it paralyzes me, LOL. I was sorta looking forward to my three months of no pressure. It’s life, I guess!

Universe, remember what I requested for this year?

So what do you do about it which must not be named?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: ,

Stories Fighting; Readers

I made a decision. I made a plan. I outlined the stories I’m writing in my thirty-sixth year, with a method to my madness, a plan for my career. And this other story is interfering. What am I supposed to do?

I’m so irritated.

To make matters worse, I feel horribly underqualified to write the story that’s bugging me. The story that’s interfering has nothing to do with what I want to write. For goodness sake, it’s commercial, I guess you’d say, almost on the literary side. I am a genre writer.

I suppose it’s okay if I flit back and forth, but what really irritates me, is that the planned story is not writing. I’ve written a buttload of crap and brainstorming and nothing holy is emerging.

When this happens, I always go back to pseudonym. Her stories write so easily, mostly, kind of. Well, easily in comparison. Why do they write so easily?

There’s an element of escapism, I suppose. And when Glenn’s away, particularly, there’s an element of loneliness seeking company with my characters. There’s always a passion… usually to comfort my character, to make her feel less lonely, empower her, give her her dreams.

When things are flowing, there’s always this big element of love. I feel like my heart is wide open. Just… loving.

I need to love my audience, I suppose. Angie laughed that I’d never written a spy thriller, having been “spyscribbler,” LOL. But the number one problem I had and never resolved, is that I didn’t know my audience, and I couldn’t write blind.

So maybe, instead of searching for my story, I need to search for my readers. I need that touchstone. Even if I’m wrong about my readers, I still need to write to them. I need to love them first.

I don’t know.

What do you do when a story isn’t writing? How do you feel when a story is flowing? What triggers that rush of words, when things are going well, when you get that “writer’s high?” Do you try to get an emotional sort of connection to your readers before you start your story?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Writing Craft | Tags: , , ,

Hopes and Dreams

Not yours. Not your career’s. What are the hopes and dreams for your novel, for the world inside your novel, for your characters?

You all know how badly I want to (finally!) write a story targeted for New York for NaNo. This is taking a whole new process, because usually I start with the romantic tension between two characters, their problems, and go from there.

I’m flying clueless and scared, here.

Worse, I’m also catching up on projects that I’d meant to be completed before NaNo began. I’ve also been writing past planned: the last novella was meant to be 52K, but it ended well over 60K. This one was supposed to end at 48K, but it’s still going steady at 52K. (I’ll probably have to split it in two parts to fit guidelines.) Plus I meant to squeeze in a 20K novella last week.


Anyway, I’m still determined to write a non-erotic novel targeted for New York. This month. But I still don’t “know” it. It’s not “ripe” yet.

One of the tips NaNo gives is, if you’re stuck, to write your hopes for the scene, or your hopes for the book. Not your hopes for getting an agent or getting published or getting a certain advance, but what emotions you hope your scene inspires in the reader, where you hope the scene will take the characters emotionally, how you hope the climax will play out.

What do you want your scene or your story to say? What kind of effect do you want it to have on the reader?

It loosens things up, for sure, especially if I haven’t done enough pre-writing imagining in my head, but I don’t have time to indulge in just waiting longer. I’m getting little glimmers of my story, but not yet enough to know where it begins.

So how do you knock things loose when you’re stalled? What are your hopes and dreams for your current story?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: NaNoWriMo,Writing Craft | Tags: , ,

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