Tag Archives: writer’s block

STELLA HAUNTS ME!

 

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I’m lying in bed next to my wife when Stella McMasters lifts the covers and slips in beside me.  She taps my chin.

“When are you going to do it?” she asks.

I glance over to see if Stella has awakened Jane.  My wife usually takes a dim view of me sleeping with two women at the same time.  Fortunately, she’s snoring.

I turn back.  “Going to do what?” I ask.

She snuggles closer.  “Tell the rest of my story.”

I sigh, for she’s asked this before.  Stella’s the cyborg heroine I created in Beyond Those Distant Stars, a SF action-adventure romance published by Mundania Press (http://tinyurl.com/74a6zqp).  Twice I’ve tried to write a sequel, Star Warrior, but I’ve been stymied each time by my friends’ substantial and valid criticisms.

I try to brazen it out.  “Listen, honey, you’re my creation, and it’s up to me to continue your story or not.”

This doesn’t fly.  Stella’s face hardens, and she raises a fist.  Two-thirds of her body is synthetic, and she could crush me with a single blow.  “I rule an empire of a thousand worlds,” she says, “and I’ve got enemies who want to destroy me.  Hell, there’s enough for a whole boatload of books.  I can be an even bigger hero than Miles.”

That’s Miles Vorkosigan, the creation of the multiple prize-winning SF author Lois McMaster Bujold, whose name inspired Stella McMasters’ name.  “Look,” I say, “I tried twice to continue your saga, but my writers’ group found too many implausibilities.”

Stella gives me a chaste kiss, which is unlike the passionate ones she gave her unfaithful lover in Beyond Those Distant Stars.  “Screw the implausibilities.  Just write it.”  She smiles.  “I feel great adventures ahead of me.  New challenges, new men, new triumphs and revelations.  Sweetie, my saga is just getting started.”

My name isn’t Sweetie, but I don’t tell her that.  “I can’t do it,” I say.  “I tried twice—”

Her hand squeezes me below the covers, but not as a lover.  I moan in pain.

“Do it,” she orders.  Seeing Jane roll over beside me, she taps my chin again and disappears.

Jane sighs.  “Stella again?” she asks.

Great.  My wife heard.  “Yes.”

She moves closer.  “It was worse this time, wasn’t it?”

I don’t need to answer.  Jane kisses me gently.

“Honey,” she says, “why don’t you do what she says.  Only in the sequel . . .”

“Yes?”

She giggles.  “In it, you kill the bitch off.”

* * *

Being haunted by your own character is no fun.  If Stella wants sequels, why doesn’t she take charge and sweep me along plot-wise like other authors’ characters do?  Doesn’t she recognize writer’s block when she sees it?

Two days later, I enter the shower to find Stella waiting there for me.

“Look,” I say, “we have to stop meeting like this.”

Nude, she taps my chin.  “Then you know what to do.”

* * *

After I dry off, I sit down and start Star Warrior again.

 

John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance.  He’s the former editor of Horror Magazine and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association.  Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens.

Web site: http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog site: http://www.johnrosenman.blogspot.com

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OVERCOMING READER’S BLOCK by Salvatore Buttaci

Sal's blog post for Nov 13


It is almost common knowledge that the creative drive sometimes hits a stone wall and otherwise prolific writers are left wordless. But what about readers? As long as the synergistic relationship between writers and readers is optimally working, the pleasure road ahead is smooth for both of them. Consider, however, that just as writers run afoul of the joys of productivity, so too do readers find themselves in a slump when it comes to appreciating the joy of reading.

Let’s face it. Writers need readers and readers need writers. It is a fact not to be ignored. A dampening of the writer’s output and/or the reader’s appreciation of that output can disastrously result in aborted creativity. It is the old story, “If a tree fell in the forest and there was no one there to hear its fall, did it make a sound?” Allow me the paraphrase: If a book is written and there is no one there to read it, what value can that book claim? A written book is only half alive; it gains full life when it is read by others.

Oddly enough, the solution to reader’s block can be mined from the same ore as the solution to writer’s block. Both involve selectivity, time management, and repetition.
Here is an explanation of each as it applies to readers.

1. Selectivity. A surefire way to become overwhelmed by the number of books and e-books available out there is to visit Amazon.com. It can be dauntingly discouraging. It reminds me of a cartoon I once saw of a diner in a fine restaurant being handed a huge multi-paged menu and the waiter saying, “I’ll be back in a little while to take your order.”

The greater the choice, the greater the difficulty in deciding.

Readers need to settle on certain genres in fiction and nonfiction. In other words, narrow down the playing field so that instead of facing millions of books they can zero in on, for example, the genre of science fiction, historical romance, adventure, how-to nonfiction, and biography.

How do we narrow down the choices of books from which readers can select those they prefer? This article you are now reading at www.writeroomblog.com offers a manageable solution to the problem of selectivity. Only the best of books are listed here. You will find fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

To find them go to the top of the site’s page and click on BOOKS. This will take you to a display of books with a brief caption beneath each book cover. Find one that interests you and click on that book cover. This will bring you to that book’s page at Amazon.com where you can order a copy of book or Kindle.

Often when readers enjoy reading a book by a particular author, they will seek out other books by that same author. It makes perfect sense to be selective in both genre and author because it reduces the D.Q. –– the Disappointment Quotient. A low D.Q. can only add to the pleasure of reading.

2. Time Management. You have heard it often enough. And I am sure you have said it too: “There aren’t enough hours in the day!”

We know that an extension of the day to thirty hours sounds desirable, but we would still be complaining, even with an additional six hours to get things done. We need to manage our time better than we have been. Take note of how you spend your day and delete those activities that waste the minutes, even hours, when you could be relaxing in the pages of a good book.

In their struggles against the “block,” writers try to reserve certain times in the day when they can write undisturbed for an hour or so. Making this activity habitual loosens the constraints of the dry spell and writers before long begin finding themselves breaking the bonds of the I-Can’t-Write-Today Blues.

So it can be for readers. Find a particular time in the day or night to read your book. Strapped for time, perhaps read only a chapter or two, but at least you would be reading in that time slot everyday, creating a habit the mind will come to know and anticipate.

3. Repetition. For any habit to take root, it must be practiced repeatedly. Selecting a certain time facilitates that objective. Reading one day at about three in the afternoon and then refraining from that activity for the next two or three days does not. Repetition is the key to honing all crafts. If writers do not write daily, if readers do not read daily, they will find themselves in the same pitfall as the ballplayer who forgoes the habitual time set aside for batting practice, then wonders why he consistently strikes out.

To sum it all up, following the hints expressed in each of the above three areas will help book lovers get back in the swing of reading. Select favorite types of reading, manage time better so there is adequate time to read, and finally, repeat the joy of reading by reserving the same time and even the same place everyday. Once the good habit of reading takes hold it will be very difficult to break.

Writers and readers depend on one another to complete the circle of literary expression and appreciation. They do not need the frustration of being blocked from writing or reading to their hearts’ content.

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BIO

Salvatore Buttaci is a retired teacher and professor whose work has appeared in The Writer, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere here and abroad. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award.

His collection of 164 short-fiction stories, Flashing My Shorts, is available from  Amazon.com as book, Kindle, and audio book:

His Kindle e-book Ritual is part of a series of Horror Shorts published by All Things That Matter Press. Only 99¢.