Good morning, all, and welcome back to the Web. Forgive me, dear readers, but I have lost my way. For a good many years now, I have written stories and novels of fantasy and the occult. I’ve written a fantasy novel that has received praise for not being overrun with elves, dwarves, and goblins (check it out on my personal page above), and more occult and paranormal tales than I can remember. That doesn’t mean I believe in any of that stuff, it’s just fun to play with. But horror in real life is the sort that you can’t get away from, and this particular curse is affecting me deeply: You see, I finished The Vampire’s Daughter last year around Halloween, and haven’t been able to write anything since.
I was born in October. The relevance? I started every school year a bit younger than most of my classmates who had been born in the first three-quarters of the year. Maybe for this reason, many of them viewed me as someone who should have been a grade behind them and looked down their noses accordingly. I was nine when I started fifth grade under the tutelage of “Mrs. Warner in the corner” at Sunset View Elementary School in San Diego. She passed on long before I published Beyond the Rails, and that’s too bad, because of all people, she should have been there to see it; it was she, after all, who caused it.
Mrs. Warner had an exercise she would do once or twice a month. She would prop up some inspirational pictures around the classroom and give us an hour to write a story. Then she’d turn us out for recess, and while we were outside being feral children, she’d read them. When we came back in, she’d read some of what she considered the best without saying who wrote them and ask the class to vote for their favorites. Mine were always at or near the top, and I gained some cred thereby. Mind you, back then I was writing the same drivel that any 10-year-old boy daydreams about, dinosaurs in the neighborhood and such, but all of this positive attention struck a chord in my preteen self, and I’ve been writing in a number of genres for the last 64 years.
But not any more, and it isn’t that I haven’t been trying. I’ve managed to squeeze out a couple of scenes for the next story in the Vampire’s Daughter series, but I find none to be catchy or compelling enough to draw me onward. I’ve even been trying to assemble a short story anthology about dark romances in which love goes wrong. My hope was that maybe a completely new genre would spark my creativity, but not so far, and now a new factor has entered the mix: I’ve joined this Vella group in the hope that something would click for me, but there are people… Hell, there’s a friend of mine who just posted a story a month ago, and he’s already been on there thanking readers for his 2000 views. Two thousand views! I’ve been on there with multiple stories for ten months, and I just cracked 400. There’s a lesson there somewhere, if I’m just attentive enough to learn it.
For a good number of weeks now, our authors here have talked about fears of a supernatural persuasion, everything from the monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos to vampires and werewolves. I have a confession to make: Even though I have written enthusiastically about those things, they don’t scare me. A bit. You see, I know in my heart of hearts that ghosts, ghouls, and goblins are not real. Period. No, what scares me are the common things that everyday life throws at you, and that leads me in roundabout fashion to a point.
I don’t want to not be a writer. The idea terrifies me. See? No bug-eyed monsters, no creeping horrors, no pack of ravenous, piranha-like eating machines; just change. Writing has been part of my identity since 1958, and as much fun as Skyrim and XCom have been, I’m not sure they can be a fulfilling replacement. Perhaps I’ll find my way out of this chamber of horrors before I succumb. But as the old saying goes,
“The best laid plans of mice and men are about equal.”
I’m a simple guy. The wind blows north, I pretty much go north. Right now, the wind is blowing away from that place where I’m a writer, and the farther away I get, the more lost I become. Over the course of a long and mostly happy life, I have pursued, embraced, and eventually drifted away from a dozen hobbies, but writing is different. Writing has never been something I do; it is something I am, a part of my identity unlike any mere hobby. It has been my touchstone for 64 years, and I don’t feel grounded without it… and yet, nothing comes.
I set this website up last year on November 11th, less than two weeks after I hit the “Publish” button on The Vampire’s Daughter, when I still thought I’d be going strong. The purpose was for this site to fill a role similar to the Bloomsbury Group, famous for members Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, and Desmond McCarthy, among others, a festering Petri dish of ideas among its members. This has not yet come to pass, but hope remains, and perhaps as we gain momentum…
But let’s not dwell on “perhaps.” I just need to focus on returning to the page with something of quality to present, and to that end, I’m first going to prepare articles for the blog, engage in detailed comments both here and on other sites, and hope the interest returns. I’m not sure I’m entirely whole without it. So, anyone have any of those festering ideas to throw out?
4 responses to “The Best-Laid Plans…”
So much here that I identify with, including being born in October and younger than my classmates. Good write, my friend. If you want writing advice from someone who can’t seem to help himself, I’d say stick to the classic “underdogs prevail over seemingly-insurmountable odds and an ‘unbeatable’ foe” plot. It seems to be the type of story I gravitate to.
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Ah, my old friend Firewater! I appreciate you taking the time, and it’s an ever-popular theme you suggest. But I feel I should think in baby steps. I’m not likely to turn out my best-ever story the day after posting this, but maybe offering some meaningful comments elsewhere, or beginning to build my next post will serve. I have faith that it will return. I have to. It’s too much a part of me to leave behind. Patience, my friends, patience. You remember Patience; she’s old, but she’s clean!
I cannot leave without mentioning my commentor: Roll over his name, Firewater65, above, and it will display a link to his website. It is a journey worth taking, as he sends up popular culture as brilliantly as anyone I’ve encountered. I greatly enjoy his scintillating sense of humor and comment frequently, and I think you will, too!
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I am also october born. My mom started me in a private school for my first two grades so I wouldn’t have to wait for the age requirement thing.
I just want to say that I wish people would not share/brag about numbers on Vella. I don’t tell any numbers, good or bad.
Second, I wrote furiously for years, completing 6 novels with zero readers and no opportunities for publishing. I quit writing, finally, for more years. Then I started writing 200 word Facebook posts and blah blah eventually a writer friend practically forced me to start vella.
And I’m so glad.
My point is don’t give up, don’t force it but if you want to write maybe start small. I’m pretty old too so don’t let age discourage you either.
Hang in there!😁
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Hello, Cindy! Welcome to the web and thanks for taking the time! I, too… I’m sitting at my desk this very moment looking at a shelf that has five unpublished novels, typewritten manuscripts, in boxes or three-ring binders. I began publishing on CreateSpace, A’Zon’s now-defunct self-publishing print-and-Kindle platform. I had a bit of success with Beyond the Rails, a steampunk series, which is where I earned the “Blimprider” sobriquet. I had my personal best year ever with Vella last year, and yet seeing the numbers others have achieved can be discouraging. I guess there’s something to be said for knowing where you stand.
Thanks for the advice and encouragement. Baby steps does seem to be the way to go. You can never truly say you’ve stopped writing, even if it’s a conscious decision; it’s just too easy to pick up a pen.
Have a great weekend, and best of luck on your own journey!