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Monday, 19 January 2015

The Muse Has Landed

A while back - okay, a long while back - I suddenly found that I just could not write any more. There were several things contributed to this, some purely personal to my life, others that related directly to the reality of being a published writer. The rot began to set in when I was partway through the 2nd book in the Vampires of Hollywood series and I was sensing a strange and distracting discontent roving through my usually creative brain. Then there was the Infamous Computer Crash in which I lost everything I had struggled to write of Dante’s Choice, necessitating a complete rewrite with nothing substantial left to reference, and after that something which I had loved to do since ever I learned to read and write, became the thing I hated most. I could not write at all. What’s more, I had zero interest in doing so. I could have quite happily walked away from the whole business forever and not given a single blue fuck.

In fact I did walk away from it. Eventually I had to walk away or go bat-shit insane. At first the inability to write was depressing, and then it became frustrating, and finally everything about writing just made me so mad that walking away seemed the sanest, most reasonable thing to do. So I took time out and did other things - any other thing so long as it didn’t involve creative writing - and in doing so I rediscovered a liking for ( and a fair talent for ) crafting. I also caught up on a slew of reading. Really whittled down my To Be Read list.

Tongue-in-cheek Gothic goodness!
Then, just before Christmas 2014, I came across a file of short stories, some unfinished, none published, and I began tinkering with those, re-writing, re-shaping, and lo, I began to feel the stirrings of creativity once again. So I dug out a bunch of small press publications in which I’d had short stories appear and I began going through those, looking for suitable ones to include in a compilation, mostly of horror stories which are either a little tongue-in-cheek or poke gentle fun at the Gothic tradition of scary stories. And that compilation, to be titled A Night At Castle Kozlak: Or How I Became A Vampire Hunter! ( And Other Stories ) will be my next published work. This will be followed by a horror novella which I am working on completing at the moment, titled Down At Pomba Gira’s. Reconnecting with my old short stories, the place where I began writing, has rekindled my desire to write, if not quite made me love it again…not yet anyway. But it's a start.
The horror...oh the horror...!

As for the next installment of my New Orleans Mysteries series featuring Willie Rae Flynn & Co., titled Summertime and the Dying is Easy, I have picked that up again in the last week but I have no idea yet when anything will be ready for actual publication.

Book 3 in the Vampires of Hollywood series will hopefully be out in December 2015. I can’t say much about what it will look like except that another major character will die ( but it won’t be Dante, or Lydia! ), and that the powerful enemy of whom Dante was warned by the dying Robin will be revealed. Everything else is still being knitted together, slowly and painfully at times, because there remain certain issues of discontent with this series.

But it’s nice to be able to write anything at all again. One of my own all-time favorite authors, Stephen King, once described writing as being like sitting staring at a blank piece of paper until somehow, magically, a hole opens up in the paper and you fall through that hole into a world of your own creation. Waiting for the hole in the paper to open up can be frustrating and sometimes even frightening, and when it closes for an extended period, leaving you locked out of your creative world, you feel like you’re losing your damned mind. I’m not sure if King said that part but it was sure as hell how I felt for a while after the hole in the page slammed shut on me.

It's said also that everything in life is a learning experience and I did learn some lessons from my experience with this closure of the creative world. I learned to be choosy about which writers I am in contact with, to stay out of writing groups online ( with the exception of one very, very good group to which I still belong, Book Junkies ), to recognize wannabe kingmakers who are using review sites to play their little power games and avoid those like the plague, and to whittle my social media presence down to just the sites that I use most often and which don’t make me want to go out and burn down libraries. More importantly, I also re-affirmed my belief that a writer should just write, and not get involved with the back-slapping and ass-kissing side of the business of writing.

Just write!