Receipt of Ideas

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Just write it down
No matter where
Card, receipts
Bleed it there

Capture that chaos
Before it’s gone
Scrawl investments
You may later draw on

When it bursts
Don’t edit, censor
The whirlwind creates
Sense comes after


I have little bits of words scrawled in the margins of everything in our house.  Some of it is probably disturbing for my husband, given the horror stories I write.  I’ve learned that I have to write down ideas.  If I think of a particularly poignant sentence construction, a clever rhyme, a novel that will surely both disturb and entertain–I write all that down.  If I don’t, I won’t remember it.

It’s a bit of young writer’s conceit that if an idea is worth pursuing, you’ll remember it.  Sorting your ideas this way is like having your toddler sort the mail.  You will absolutely get some mail.  The odds that it will be the boring looking electric bill are pretty slim, though, and you might need that.

I write it all down.  Some of it is nonsense.  Some of it I can hardly read.  Some of it turns into amazing stories or phrases or entire poems.  I fill notebooks.  It’s my hoard of possible treasure.

Note:  By “weekly,” I meant pretty much every week, not EVERY week, and by “Sunday” I meant around Sunday.  Last week I was finishing the last rewrite of The Tiny Giant and my head was wrapped up in that, as it should have been.  Have a great week.

 

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We Now Direct You to Bad Poem-a-Week

I did it (again).  31 poems in 31 days.  Some were good and you agreed, some I thought were good probably weren’t, and some of the bad ones were at least entertaining.  

I like this stunt that I’ve pulled, and I appreciate each and every comment or like–they make me feel less like I’m throwing an envelope into the ocean.  Thanks, also, to new followers who felt it was interesting enough to become part of the group.  

I’ve decided to post a new poem once a week from here on out.  The quality should go up as the quantity goes down, but that isn’t a given, is it?  I think I’ll post them on Sundays.  I’ll continue as long as someone is being entertained.  

I also have some book things happening, and school is starting so I can work full-time on those.  Here’s to hoping we all have a rip-roaring finish to 2017.  See you on Sundays.

Much love, Rebecka

Retreating

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A writer’s weekend away
Was exactly what I wanted,
But you might have mentioned
Your condo is prehaunted.

It’s a real distraction
To have noises in the night,
And the patting on my leg
Gave even me a fright.

But beyond the Scooby scares,
The worst thing for an empath,
Was the pervading sadness
Lingering in the guest bath.

Despair so deep, it broke me.
I had to pack up and leave.
I fled for home in tears–
It took three days to grieve.

So….thanks for your largesse?
I really appreciate the thought.
I won’t be going back to work
In the Condo of the Lost.


My husband, the Navy vet, tells me that sea stories always start with “This is no shit, man…”  I didn’t think that was an elegant title, so I went with “Retreating.”  I’ve had odd experiences before in my life, but this one topped them all. The pressure of an unseen hand on my leg woke me.  The electrical appliances and lights did a lot of flickering and malfunctioning.  My spare battery pack wouldn’t take a charge (I’m using it right now, it’s fine again).

The hardest part, though, was definitely the emotional imprint left on the place.  I don’t know the whole story, but I can guess.  It still seems very sad, but it no longer seems like my tragedy, as it did while I was there.

I did manage to get some work done, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped.  Next time I get a weekend free, I’m staying in a nice generic hotel, preferably built very recently.

The F Word

 

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Today? I wrote for kids.
Fairies, elves and dragons.
Tomorrow, I’m writing horror
And this might sound like bragging–but–

I will use the F word
In so many creative ways.
Noun, verb, adjective, interjection…
I can F for days.

Some will get the vapors,
Others just turn up their nose,
But when you’re writing messy life
The underbelly has to show.

In my real-life conversation,
I don’t F this and that with ease,
But my characters F an awful lot
When faced with extremity.

I guess what I’m saying is
You can’t sanitize real.
My pretend people have to tell you
Exactly how they fucking feel.


It’s sort of funny to me how people extrapolate what and how you write to your own personality. They expect Steve King to live in some sort of Addams family monstrosity, when he’s really someone’s Grandpa and puts a sheet on his couch so the dog doesn’t get hair all over it.

The imagination is an amazing tool, and you don’t always get to pick which doors fly open in the middle of the night. I have these flawed people come to me nearly fully formed. It’s my job to put them in situations and see what they do–and it’s not always nice. *shrug*

I Can’t Stanza This Today

I don’t feel like poeming today.
Much obliged if you’ll just look away.
I’d rather write stories about crazy old bats,
So I’m spending today working on that.

Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll be rhyming again.
I might have a haiku under my pen. *shrug*
Today–meh. Agnes has my attention,
So Bad Poem-a-Day is left in suspension.


My collection of psychological horror stories, Bitches and Dead People, is on its way to the editor very soon, and I decided at the last minute to ditch one of the stories and replace it with this story about Agnes, a foul-mouthed, paranoid octogenarian whom I find very bad and very funny.  When I write about these people, I like to stay in their heads in an uninterrupted stream–meaning, I don’t like to skip back and forth between different projects while the story is in progress.  You understand.  I hope.

Waiting Is Boring, I Think I’ll Start a Business: Little Voices Publishing

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Unsurprisingly, sending queries to agents is a long, drawn out process.  First, the agents you find in your genre have to be accepting queries and submissions.  You find the magic window, and send whatever combo platter that particular agent is looking for–one wants a #3, the next just wants a letter a la carte, the next wants the whole thing translated into Esperanto.  Then….you wait.  If you’re doing it according to industry guidelines, you don’t have it out to 100 agents at once, just a handful.  You get those responses or wait for a reasonable amount of time…and then you send some more.

The Tiny Giant hasn’t been out to many people so far, and I’ll let that run its course.  You have to.  Traditional publishing is still the best scenario–they have resources, you have ideas, they can help you get the best version of your ideas to the most people.

That doesn’t mean I sit around waiting for six months, though.  In the event that I don’t connect with just the right agent at the right time for magic to commence, I’ll pay a professional editor and self-publish The Tiny Giant under my brand spanking new publishing imprint: Little Voices Publishing.  Self-publishing is in many ways indistinguishable to the consumer now–you can set it up on Amazon, it can be an e-book, it’s print-on-demand and shipped directly with their free Prime shipping.  The days of buying 100 copies from Vanity Press® and trying to hawk them at the Grange Hall are behind us.  If you build your small business, and someone wants to come buy you out later…well, that’s fine too.

The cost of having this little business is not small.  I have applied for all of the licenses and permits, and I’ll have a pile of additional paperwork to do at the end of the year.  I’m still up in the air with City Hall about an environmental impact study they said I had to do if I wanted a business license.  I think City Hall is going to rule that I don’t need a business license at all, since I don’t really produce anything.  (I would be insulted, but that’s the easiest option and saves me $45.)  Then there’s the time involved.  There’s a website (http://www.littlevoicespublishing.com) and a Facebook page I’m building and updating.  I might even get some ding-dang paper business cards done.  None of this is writing stories–it is a J-O-B.

All of that infrastructure is nearly ready.  Then I’ll just let it sit there and…..ha ha ha, no, I won’t.  That would be fine if I had no other ideas, but lack of ideas has never been my issue.  In March, Little Voices Publishing will launch the first book in the Moodrangles series, Sally the Sad Shape.  This pause…it’s an opportunity, and I would be a fool not to use it.  Written by me and illustrated by Steve Ogden (Magnificatz), Sally the Sad Shape is a charming story about a mood that we all experience.  The Moodrangles series intends to honor the complex emotional lives of children with humor and empathy.  I’ll update here with more details when it’s available.  Until then…I have some more website stuff to put up, and those business cards to design, and copy to write for the Amazon page, and, and, and.  It’s real, it’s fun, and it’s turning out to be really fun.

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Shaming Our Mothers

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When my son plays by himself, I shamelessly eavesdrop on the running commentary.  It’s often funny and charming, and it gives me a window into what the quirky little guy is thinking or feeling that day.  Once, with his little plastic animals, I overheard one animal tell another this:

“Now you have to go home and see what your parents think of your bad choices.”

This was said with more than a hint of satisfaction.  Naughty Critter was definitely in for it, and Sensible Critter was enjoying it.

No matter how old we get, that still resonates.  If you have (or had) any kind of relationship with your parents, you care what they think about your choices.  You want them to be proud of the work that you’re doing.  You want to take your mom to the Oscars and watch her enjoy How You Turned Out.  It’s normal and loving to want your parents marveling at your good choices.  (For ease, I’m going to shorten “parents” to “mom” here, but it could be either or both.)

But…. what if your art pulls you in a direction that you think your mom isn’t going to like?  Writing books for children is in this way an easier choice—nothing controversial, few opportunities to use f#%*, nothing to ruin Thanksgiving.1  I have several books for children in the works, and it’s nice to know that my mom will be able to read these without feeling like she needs to have a “talk” with me.  Writing for adults, about adults, gets a lot trickier.

When I’m not writing for children, I’m writing psychological horror stories.  If I’m being honest, they are better work.  The dark humor and complexity of these stories is something I’ve worked hard at, and it shows off the best of what I can presently do as a writer.  And…that’s the problem.  Aside from issues of readership, where people have trouble separating different types of work, how do I tell my mom I’m going to publish a story collection called “Bitches and Dead People”?2  Will she get the vapors or will it be Tuesday?  It’s probably somewhere in the middle, but here’s some things to think about.

Your mom is not actually a satellite of you.  We spend our whole lives thinking of our mothers in terms of how they relate to us.  The child’s narcissism in relation to his parents never really goes away.  Because of that, we forget that our moms had (and still have) lives that do not revolve around us.  She was probably reading The Clan of the Cave Bear series and enjoying those sexy, sexy Ayla/Jondalar scenes while you were at elementary school.  She might have even snuck a peek into that “50 Shades” book.  She probably enjoys other things we are completely unaware of, like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.  Let your mom be a fully formed, three-dimensional person in your mind for a few minutes and see that you don’t necessarily know much about her.  There are big chunks that aren’t filled in.  Don’t presume that there aren’t.

Moms have a past and they have made their own bad choices that they don’t share with us.  Let’s be really clear, we do not want them to share this unless it is an extremely important teachable moment.  That is all I’m going to say about that.  Just no.

You can’t parent your characters into behaving as your parents would expect them to.  My mom has opined that curse words are the refuge of the lazy.  When I am writing humor, or an opinion piece like this, I think that’s probably mostly correct.  If I work a little harder, I can come up with something just as funny or precise or better.  When I’m writing fictional dialogue or inner monologue, though…well.  My characters did not have the benefit of this wisdom.  They are Flawed, and it shows.  If I sat with my Flawed people and fretted, “Oh, my, what will people think of the naughty language, oh dear,” my Flawed people would also be Unbelievable.  I can’t parent my characters and chronicle their true selves at the same time.  They are gloriously broken and that’s what makes them interesting.

Censoring yourself because of what you think someone might think is proactively timid.  I don’t know what my mom and dad are going to say to me when and if they read my work for adults.  They don’t have to read it—my mom doesn’t like horror stories anyway, so maybe she won’t read any of it, or I’ll just print out the ones that aren’t especially scary for her.  That’s her choice, though.  Maybe she’ll tell me that she thinks they’re terrible and belong in the trash can.  That wouldn’t be nice, but it would also be disrespectful for me to presume that I know what’s good for her.  This is where we have to be adults, two of them, and say, “You might not like this, but I hope you can appreciate it.”

As a last thought, I called this little thing “Shaming Our Mothers” for a reason.  Most of us would rather not, and we spend energy trying not to be an embarrassment to the people who love us.  Maybe, though, we don’t know what that means in the one place where it’s meaningful.  Let your mom be a real person for a minute, and then give her the chance to decide whether she’s shocked and disappointed in your bad choices for herself.  It might be surprising for you both.


1 Hey, I’m not saying it’s impossible.  Maybe your character has three heads and Aunt Linda is part of that “One Head” movement, and she decides to create a fuss over the turkey and the stabbings commence.  It’s just a lot less likely.

2 Hi, Mom!  Guess what?