Wednesday, February 7, 2018

On Endings

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

The co-hosts for the February 7 posting of the IWSG are Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia,Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte plus the founder Alex J. Cavanaugh. Click the links to visit their blogs when you're done here at That Rebel.

The first draft of AWEN STORM is finally finished, yeehaa! Truth told, it was done by November 31st, my self-imposed deadline.

I just didn’t know it at the time.

What took me so long to realize my draft was complete? And why did I dance around for the next eight weeks, forcing myself to write more chapters?

Because I’m not all that good with endings.

Even when I try, I just don’t seem to have the knack. Not at ending novels. Or chapters in my life. My blog is littered with examples.

As an author who arrived at her craft in later years, I am still learning my writing process. Not your process. Not King’s, or Hemingway’s. My process. Yet even after uncovering my patterns and peculiarities, I tend to forget.

Until one rears its head again.

My first effort happened to be a children’s book*. I loved writing FRANK AND ERNIE FIND HOME, sitting at my PC for hours with a silly grin on my face. I had so much fun, I decided that book should be a series. Because... well…that ending thing.

My second was a women’s fiction (ye old chick-lit genre), which I abandoned before "The End". Why? Because to fit that mold, CHURCHES, CHICKENS & CHI CHI’S needed to be 80K words. I'd bottomed out at 50K. In retrospect, I see it qualifies as a romance.*

So 50K is enough.

Book One of the AWEN trilogy, AWEN RISING, is 101K words. I initially wrote 15K past the natural ending. A year later, after beta readers groused about the cliffhanger, I finally saw I'd gone too far. Luckily, Book Two begins where One ends, so the extra words/chapters were recycled.

Now history repeats itself with AWEN STORM.

In all fairness, my muse offered sign after sign that the first draft of Book Two was finished. But this insecure writer misinterpreted, and so, missed them all.

For weeks.

I have since cut the extra chapters (9K words) from Book Two, and typed "The End". And moved the chapters into a file for Book Three, AWEN TIDE. Two victories.

I have more good news.

This time there was no duplication of effort, as in the transition from Book One to Two. Meaning, the glitches, the blocks, the walls, and the lessons I talked about last post, become shorter-lived.

Last time it took a whole year.

The takeaway? I realized after the CC & C debacle, that when it's time to type "The End", new, shiny ideas no longer fit. They are for a new novel. Not the current one.

It's just harder to discern in the middle of a series. 

Thank you for stopping by That Rebel. I would love to hear your comments below. And here's the link to read the other IWSG posts.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré

*Yes, I do plan to dust off both earlier novels, give the romance an ending, and publish.

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy, a rollicking fantasy set in 2042CE that combines current, ancient, and future history. Book One, AWEN RISING, is complete and in query. The first draft of Book Two, AWEN STORM, awaits edits. And Book Three, AWEN TIDE, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Don’t Fight the Muse. She Knows What She’s Doing.

What do you do when your muse is silent? Throw a hissy fit? Sulk? Play the blame game? Me too. But instead of working, these anchor me deeper into the depths of despair.

Don’t you love it when your muse is singing? When she rises in the morning, and dances around the room, whispering sweet everythings in your ear? When she sits with you at the keyboard and pours her heart into your prose?

Me too.
But what about her silence? Those times when she delivers neither inspiration, nor words?

I am learning to love these too.


Because I have discovered my muse always has a reason.
She knows what she's doing.

When nothing flows - the words, the motivation, the ability to be still and write - it is time. Time to stop tormenting myself. To stop churning and surrender to the wide-open yonder. Let go of the need to push on, and through.

I dislike the term “writer’s block". Always have. Yet many a dry spell has shaped my writing experience, including a year-long "block" in the middle of AWEN RISING. Now I finally understand.

When I am unable to write, it's because I have nothing to say.


Because I haven't stopped to listen. Or I am headed down the wrong road. Or there's work to be done before proceeding.

Like researching new settings, names, legends. Or sitting in silence, watching the morning light play on the swift-moving clouds, allowing space for the next thread to appear.

I am learning to trust the muse - because she always knows.

What to do. Where to go. Who to bring along. When to humor wayward characters. How to distinguish the good gals from the bad.

On encountering a deadend while driving, what do you do? Stop, reassess, check the map. Maybe find a new station on the radio. Turn right, left, or flip a U-ey to backtrack.

When hitting a literary wall, we can do the same. Crank the radio. Dance a jig. Run errands. Take a drive. Let the mind wander. Move from the desk to a comfy chair. A cafe. A coffee shop.

I am down to the last scene of AWEN STORM, Book Two of the AWEN trilogy. The main characters are within spitting distance of the final hurrah. And while I’ve known for a long time how this leg will end, and had plans to polish it off this morning, I encountered a wall of resistance.

It sent me out for groceries, in the pre-dawn hour. To Walmart where I loaded up on sugary treats after a brief embargo. McDonald’s for a Egg McMuffin, oh yes I did. Then Winco, because I forgot the crackers.

Back home, I sorted a weeks' worth of clothes and lugged them downstairs. Loaded the washer. Took towels out of the dryer. And in the middle of the laundry room, my muse whispered.

"The ending is already written."

You  mean that cool scene we cut from the prologue of Book One?

"Yessss. That's the one. That's your ending."


My muse isn't being mean. She’s not punishing me. And there’s nothing I have done to offend her. She is calling me to listen. To be still and know.

In this case, extra words would be wasted effort.
The ending is done.

So lighten up. Surrender to the silence. Let your mind wander. Let it play. Your muse will whisper, and you will hear. And the silences will grow shorter and shorter. 

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy, a rollicking fantasy set in 2042CE that combines current, ancient, and future history. Book One, AWEN RISING, is complete and in query. The first draft of Book Two, AWEN STORM, is nearing completion, and Book Three, AWEN TIDE, is swirling in the mists of creation.


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