On the third day of workshops, I was asked to come up with one single word about me and my journey as a writer. My word is, EVOLVING, and yes, I used all caps there. I don’t feel discouraged, although I think a lot would after attending a writers conference comprised mostly of older, incredibly literate types. I am not that literate, even my writings are mostly fantasy, and mostly sex, and on the whole I tend to write about love in all its myriad forms, more than I ever write something intellectually stimulating. My quest this lifetime is to become as emotionally intelligent as they all are academically.
I am about as uneducated as they all are –educated –academic –I am neither. Even using the F-bomb as someone scolded me for, is not really allowed. I’d like to put the word, allowed, between quotes, because I realize even though someone might tell me otherwise, their offense to my way of writing and speaking is none of my concern. Who is “Allowing” or disavowing me to use expletives? Certainly none of those people.
They all read the “GREATS,” yes, again I used all capitols, and even put that word in quotations, cliché as they might be, it gets my point across. I could have just as easily said, “They all read.” Period. When do any of them have time to read? I spend every second I can, writing, and when I am finished with my hours of writing, the last thing I want to do is look at more words. But again, that is just me.
I realized almost immediately that this group of writers, were not my audience. In fact, I knew well before I was given a partial scholarship and then subsequent monetary gifts that enabled me to attend. That’s fine, I’ve spent my life gleaning what I could from various teachers and trainers and others that really weren’t people I would later call friends. I can learn something from everyone –IF I can focus long enough to hear them.
I did focus, I tuned in, I gleaned, and I filtered what I needed and what I figured I could apply to where I am now. I stored the rest of it, and I know my powerful brain will have it on hand, and ready to deploy when I get to a place where I might need that information. That is part of my evolution, and it has been how I’ve driven all this way, through thick fog, only able to see a few feet in front of me.
Of course I have self-doubt, tons upon gallons, upon acres, upon fucking butt loads of freaking self-doubt. My mantra however, ever since I can remember, and what has driven me all these years is simply, “No regrets.” By saying this to myself, and picturing myself on my death bed, wondering if I missed something, I’ve traveled through my life, living and learning and making a fucking butt load of mistakes along the way, but I have NO REGRETS! Sigh, yes, there are those all caps yet again, and yes, butt load is a standard unit of measure.
I’ve not yet used a semi-colon; oops, there I just added one. I know that Teri is looking for them and if she finds one, that will stall her, and she will disengage immediately from the story –keep looking Teri, I’m sure there will be another one soon. I love semi-colons and I love commas and I love long sentences that flow like a stream of conscious thought –that was for you Notty! I’m probably also using these dash things incorrectly as well –sigh. I did figure out what it means to add, tags, to your dialog –whew, that stalled me for a second, but I am so good at learning from extrapolation I got it –I think.
I took a three morning, three hour workshop, with 12 other students. I loved our teacher, but I was not excited about being critiqued by my fellow workshop attendees. I think a couple might be my audience –hi Paula and hi Donna; you guys gave me great critiques. Donna said something that really made me smile, and I will quote from her comments: “The author seamlessly drops the reader, (I gave them a chopped up chapter 11/12 from The Elysian), into a fantasy world without an excess of tiresome explanations. The writing is descriptive and employs all 5 senses…The lead up to the sex scene is just the right length—any shorter and it would have made the encounter seem too casual, any longer and it might have been tedious. The love-making scene, while satisfying, also leaves the reader aching for the heroine to find her true love—which in the end, she appears to set out to do. Great excerpt that runs circles around Fifty Shades…”
So, I quoted her only because she so eloquently put into words exactly how I try and write, and for whom I am targeting with my stories. I was last to get critiqued by the group, the last of 13 stories to be read and discussed. By the time my turn came, I knew it wasn’t going to be all praise and bouquets; that’s okay, I sat and I listened during the three days prior, and I offered what little I could while all of them talked on and on about how much they knew, all I kept wanting was for someone to say how much they felt. I didn’t feel much, if anything from what I read of their stories. Although well executed; I wished to be by the end. It was mundane, trivial minutia, totally devoid of feelings. Shown or even told, there just wasn’t any.
There was tragedy and heartache and death, there were juvenile, undeveloped characters and much about past family baggage or indoctrination on how to be proper, but if that is the only way one is able to feel, or impart emotions through their work; sorry, but that isn’t enough for me. I want to build desire, and love, and joy, and I want to feel that when I write and tell my stories. I think that grief is for the dead. I don’t do tragedy –I do love. I felt very little love from anything that I read or was read aloud. This made me sad.
I already know that if you read my work from an emotional place, and not from a place of finding errors, ever the critic, you will feel my words. I know this, and I am unconcerned if sometimes my first person telling, morphs into a very close third person. I find it works, and I don’t get hung up on it, and neither do the people that are my audience, I also find it makes my writing unique; isn’t that what we all want? That isn’t to say, I won’t work on this, which I will –I am forever of the mindset; good-better-best-never-let it rest. Yes, I used more than one semi-colon in that paragraph, and no, I am not sorry!
So, that morning workshop will probably help me later, maybe when I write my memoir, after I’m a famous author, but for now, it won’t. If I add more texture, and much deeper descriptions, I know it will become tedious. Part of writing this craptastic romance stuff is in the tease and the anticipation, the foreplay and the building of desire. I now know better what to submit if I ever take another workshop like this one, and I know I apparently really need to spell it out for the readers in said workshop; but for now, in this moment, I’m still unclear what, if anything I gleaned from those three mornings.
I got one comment, “The dialog for the man seemed as if written by someone else.” I blink and tilt my head to the side in confusion. Aren’t the various characters supposed to sound unique and different and unto themselves? And, if you write that way; as in the various characters sound unique and as if written by different authors; there is very little need to add tags, those pesky identifiers that are later edited out anyway. After thinking about it, I decided to take that intended criticism as a compliment.
There was also a lot of talk about getting “Published.” After intently listening, I decided I don’t care if I ever get “Published.” It sounds like hell! I want to keep my work as my work, and I want to show my evolution as I go along, I don’t want it cluttered with perfect writing and edited, watered-down versions of someone else’s reality. What I write is ME! What I write is what I like to read. In fact, when I go back through my work, I often can’t wait to turn the page because I want to know what happens. Yeah, I wrote it, but that doesn’t mean I remember what I wrote or where the time line ends up taking us, or the emotions I will once again feel. Like I said in one class; “My stories always write me.”
If it weren’t for all the available self-publishing options, I don’t think I would write. I have never sent out a query or a proposal, and I don’t intend to. My work is selling and I am getting decent enough reviews to carry on as I’ve been doing.
I’m also very proud of my erotica, and I suppose I should go to a romance convention, or a porn writers convention, or just somewhere else where they might appreciate what I do as art, because I feel as if it is. I said in one class that when I get stuck or blocked in my writing, I write a sex scene. Isn’t feeling something inside our bodies the greatest gift of all? Isn’t that very desire to feel what motivates us to write in the first place?
Only once was I close to insult, but I got over it quickly. I wanted to know who beat me in the writing competition that was open to only conference participants. My entry is the blog post just after this one; Meticulous Anarchy. I still think that short piece is some of my best non-fiction, observational writing I’ve ever done. I am still immensely proud of it, and it’s what I heard the instructors and other professional writers saying continuously throughout the conference. I didn’t hear it from the participants though, no, what I heard from the crowd of students, and the contest winners, was pretty much the opposite.
So I went to the readings and I only stayed to hear the second place winners in each category, the ones that had beaten me; I didn’t even get an honorable mention. I was so highly –unimpressed, I was close to true insult. Again it was minutia, details and descriptions of nothing important. No feelings. No emotions. No introspection whatsoever. It was polished down to a dull nub of perfect writing, but it left me cold. It was then that I realized this might not be my profession –or career –or whatever it is, it isn’t going to win contests or get noticed as real and truthful writing. It was then that I realized none of those people were my people. The sad truth is, very few are; my people.
I was one of only a few I noticed that even tried to look nice. I think it’s all in the try, and not so much the execution, I didn’t see try in but a few participants; I did from the instructors, and I found them all memorable. One day I wore a tee shirt that opens in the back; it shows pretty much my entire back, although in the front, it covers me to mid-hip. Its red. It’s loud, but if you only saw me from the front, you’d think I was covered from head to toe, (I wore it with cargo pants). The next day, I wore a dressy tee shirt that covered all of me. No skin showed. I got a random comment from someone I didn’t know, but they’d obviously noticed me the day before; “Well, at least you dressed today.”
I laughed and nodded and said something about, at least they noticed me. This I like. I want to be memorable, even if it’s a negative comment, which tells me I wasn’t invisible; although I felt invisible through most of this conference. This is not really a complaint, more an observation, invisible is great when you are a student and trying to learn. It’s also fabulous if you are an introvert, which I think most writers are. I am not, but that is another entirely different blog.
When I spoke up or I offered to read my writing prompts aloud, I was heard by a few, I knew this because I heard their whispered reactions to my words. I think I look superficial and like a “Pretty girl –a shallow and vain girl,” and they all immediately put me in the fluff-idiot box. This is a mistake when it comes to me. I am oddly deep and introspective, and also incredibly spiritual and emotional; under my well groomed exterior there are layers of texture. From looking at me, few would guess those facts.
Why is it bad to want to look good? To wear nice clothes and wear makeup and do your hair? Why do they all look as if they just walked out of a thrift store and put on the oldest, worst looking clothes they could find? Yeah, it takes a bit of effort to look good, and maybe a bit of money, but with modern shopping experiences it’s entirely possible to dress well on a non-existent budget –I know because I do! Come on people, beauty draws attention, beauty feeds a parched place in all of us. Just because for most of our lives as writers, we live in dingy sweatpants and are never seen, when we are seen, shouldn’t we look fucking fabulous?
Which brings me to the end of this blog; they all talked about feeling the words and imparting of emotions through show, don’t tell; but I never felt any of them. They all seemed rather monochrome and mechanical and all were living in the grey scale. There are a handful of locals I know personally, and they appreciate me as the loud one, the unpredictable one, the one that will guarantee to shock and make you blush and laugh –and yes FEEL! And I love those friends, I see those friends in living color. The rest of them however, where is their light? And, how dare they try and exterminate mine just because they’ve lost theirs.
I am incredibly proud of two writing prompts I did on the spot, in less than 5 minutes and are completely unedited. These are straight from me, all me, who I am to a tee, and I read these aloud in each of the classes. I am incredibly pleased with my insides, who I am, and how well I am able to let that flow when called upon. I am self-aware, shame-free and fine with it –sorry to a few of you that I am not more shame-based, but I am not. As per my evolution as a writer, I put up everything I write. I always have, even from my delusional days before I knew I wanted to write, back when I was blogging my journal entries. Back when it was stupid and miserable and depressing, and the most poorly executed crap nobody ever read. That was where I was dwelling, but I put it up for any that wanted, none did, thankfully –sigh. I never file or store anything. You could say; I am an, open book.
Here they are:
Prompt one: (Thank you Elizabeth Rosner, you are magical and your light shined brilliantly!) This prompt was simply this; I come from, I come from, once I was, now I am.
I come from many past lives. I come from the beginning. I once was a new creation, now I am very old. I come from dysfunction turned to function, I come from love and validation, I come from different. I once was energy, now I am lethargy. I come from devotion. I once was belief, now I am faith. I come from the dessert, I come from dry, parched, cracked ground where only cactus grow. I once floated on the surface, now I am the depths. I come from breakdown and break open, I come from depression and desolation. I once was alpha, now I am omega. I come from belief and doctrine, now I am feelings and emotions. I come from a cauldron of energy, now I am sentient and evolving.
I come from rules, I come from structure, I come from instructions and learning, I come from, do as I say. I once was rigid, now I am as fluid as liquid rubber. I once was contained, now I am free. I come from predator, I come from direct line. Once I was this, now I am not.
Prompt Two: (Thank you Charlotte Gullick. Even though you claim to not understand being “Girly,” you are gorgeous and your light shines brightly!) This prompt was to write to ourselves from our history, and an ancestor that wished for us to remember something. I chose to write as if my mom were still with me and reminding me.
If you can, make –the love, the most important thing, always, forever, it has to be about the love first and foremost. Take the red pill. Go against the flow. Don’t listen to the herd. Be the lion. Make love the most important thing. Don’t wait for anyone, don’t stall yourself for someone else’s development. Take the leap, grow your wings on the way down, have faith that you are loved and cared about. Nothing you do or produce is as important as being true to yourself. Two days from now, two months from now, two years from now, the only thing you will remember is the love.
We were given picture prompts by Natalie Serber, which I adored doing! I love writing prompts! I’ve never had any lessons on writing, or prompts, so I ate up these assignments like candy!
Natalie, I thought you were beautiful and shiny and I loved when you read your story a loud, and The Socks, and all the little things you said. You did well considering some of the people in the class were strong and loud and overpowering at times –bravo, I found it an impossibly diverse group. When I taught and gave clinics, I grouped my people together in comparable levels, so everyone was on the same page. That of course is impossible with writers, and also the platform you were given to work within. I don’t know how you did it.
So, that is me and how I spent the last three days. It was intensive and oddly, not. I was not overwhelmed with information. Or maybe I was and I just don’t know it yet. Strangely, my internet has been down for a solid 36 hours since returning from the conference. I can’t distract myself with my myriad little online things. So, I’ve been able to concentrate and really write. I wrote this piece over the span of a couple hours. I felt encouraged to start the story of ME, so I did, and by the time the day was over I not only wrote this blog, which is 3500 words, but I also got in another 8K on the beginning of my story; All Roads Lead to Payne, (Payne Hawthorne is my author name). It was one of those moments when it literally poured out of me. I love it when that happens and then I re-read it and it’s fabulous. I know it’s fabulous too, I don’t need another to tell me or validate that it is. It made me feel, I am naked in it; emotionally naked.
One speaker, Kevin Fisher-Paulson, (A song for lost Angels), whom I loved and found hilarious and inspiring said, “Be famous! Be naked and open and willing to share the worst of you.” He might not have said it exactly that way, but that is what I took away. He is a gay, Irish, Sherriff. His husband is a dancer, and they have two black children. His book is a rather hideous story about fostering very ill infant triplets that were taken away because of a faulty social system. I suppose no-one on the planet could be that unique and that naked. He was inspiring to me! He was the outcast that turned his perceived dysfunction into function, and made his own evolution the story.
This is me –naked, honest, real. I write in a fluff filled genre, but I am unfathomably deep. I like to be seen as beautiful, but also emotional and introspective. I enjoy being naked, in all definitions of that word. I also enjoy being seen. This is me –writer, storyteller, terrible with grammar and punctuation, barely literate, selectively energetic, always searching for the love. I am meticulous anarchy.
Here are links to my author pages:
on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/paynehawthorne