Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The "hypocritical" book

I am preparing my next poetry collection to submit to a publisher. This next collection is a collection of love poems. But...I am not in love with anyone right now. Well, not in REAL life, anyway. I'm not involved with anyone. I was chatting with my best friend about this, and I told him I felt "almost hypocritical" bringing out a collection of love poems when I'm not even in a relationship.

This may have something to do with my many failed attempts to recently write a song. It's a love song. Well, it's actually about...intimate love. The physical kind. And, I can't get it right! I want to put it into my collection (and not into the "songbook" collection), but after two drafts so far, I just can't get it "right." I have used everything I can think of to get this song written to satisfaction. Well, short of darkening the room, lighting candles and putting on some lingerie just so I can get in the "mood" for this song, all on a day my daughter is not home. But, I don't think I'd go that far... not unless I continue to find NO success in making this song what I want it to be.

I wrote this collection many years ago. I was in love then. Many of the poems were written for different loves. Some of my recent ones are for that "fantasy love" I have! So I'm not concerned about that. My concern is bringing out such a book on such a subject when....that subject doesn't exist in my real life. It just feels so...strange. Normally, I have some kind of "real life" relationship to a book I'm writing. But in this case, the only one I have is that it is something I once felt... and maybe, just maybe, something I'll feel again someday. It's just a really different thing to happen for me. I only hope it won't reflect unfavorably in reviews.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Printer paper

I recently bought some new printer paper. I finally caved because there was just too much stuff I had to go over (read/edit) and, for some reason, I do this better with pages in hand, not on the computer.

The stack of printer paper I bought came in at 500 pages. I looked at that number and thought, "I could use this to print out one of my novels." The novel I had in mind is 447 pages long. But, I'm not going to print it out. I have revised that manuscript innumerable times and, besides, it's with an editor friend at the moment. My rule is, once I hand a manuscript over to an editor, I don't touch it until I get it back! LOL Believe me, I know firsthand the frustration of editing something then being told, "Throw out that draft; read this one instead." *groan* So, I'm not going near this particular manuscript unless I'm given revisions to do.

It seems, though, that the stack of printer paper I bought won't be used to print out a manuscript after all. Or, any other document that's almost 500 pages long.

The reason?

My daughter got her hands on it.

Last night, while I chatted at the computer and read stuff on the 'Net, my daughter sat across from me, painting. On the printer paper I just bought! She ended up creating 20 different pieces of artwork, all in one sitting. There were papers lying everywhere, drying.

I'm happy about the fact that she was so productive with her art, but...LOL That's a lot of paper I can't use to print!

All the same, though, I am printing out other things. There's an article I want to send off to this British mag, but I'm printing it out because, no matter how many times I reread it online, it still feels like something is missing. (Failing that, I might ask a writer friend if he/she will offer a crit.) I'm also printing out some stories other writers I know have written, as well as chapters of one novel and a nonfiction book I’ve written, the first to revise passages on and the second to give a "fresh" read to make sure nothing is missing.

It also looks like I'll be able to print out the Skyline Literary Magazine a short story of mine is going to appear in, but that particular document will require different-sized paper. I'll just have to be sure to hide that paper from my daughter's prolific paintbrush – otherwise, I'll have to get some more just to print out the mag!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Calling it a day -- again and again

When you're a writer, it's a nice convenience to "stop" working early. Just put in a few hours (though I know some writers who work as much as 6 hours) and you're done. Next batch of work gets done tomorrow.

For me, that's not doable. I wear MANY hats, and not JUST as a writer. The editing work keeps me busy, too. I'm either writing/typing an article, putting together my E-zine, pitching a book proposal, interviewing someone for SIGNews, researching my next Shadowlands article, answering emails from readers/writers/editors, or editing work for Skyline (which is making a comeback).

I try to do AS MUCH as I can every day but it seems like the work keeps piling up. For this reason, I log on and off a lot during the day, doing this here and that there. It's just another day in a writing parent's life! (Though I'll admit the editing work keeps me A LOT busier than the writing.)

Sometimes I WILL try to "call it a day" and get off the computer for good. Then, while I'm cleaning the house or making my daughter something to eat, I'll remember something I FORGOT to do: Respond to an email, ask a fellow author a question on books/publishing, or that I have MORE stories and poems to read/edit. Or that I really SHOULD send out that query/proposal before I forget to do it -- again.

It seems like you can never really stop working. Even though I stopped freelance writing because the stress was just too much to keep in the lead (and it WAS eating into my mom time), it's like I can't keep my schedule or writing/editing duties at a minimum. There's ALWAYS something new that needs to get done. ALWAYS something that needs to be sent/edited/written. For this reason, I pretty much can't call it a day, but at least I CAN take a break and step away for a few hours. Sometimes, though, if we're under deadline or something is time-sensitive, I WILL make it a priority. Like for tonight; I'm putting in an all-nighter to finish editing the last batch of stories for Skyline since it's going out tomorrow.

Taking breaks can be a good relief to these duties, but if I wait too long to get more done, there'll just be even more when I come back.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A need-to-know basis

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from The Rock: "You're on a need-to-know basis, and you don't need to know." This is probably something often hammered into the heads of journalists everywhere (as well as the newspaper-reading public!) but it would seem a lot of writers would say something like this, too. Just because they're there writing about something doesn't mean they'll tell readers every single thing they hear, see and do.

I am reminded of this now because of a current article I am writing. The article is about people of semi-celebrity status who, I might add, I have the privilege of seeing quite a lot. Often in ways they'd rather keep hidden from the public. I didn't want to write about them at first because, well, I AM privy to this type of "private" information. But you can't turn that "writer" inside off. You just can't shut it out, no matter WHAT is going on in life. Of course I'm not writing about EVERYTHING that has to do with them. I know when to keep my mouth shut and when to keep stuff private. But it was only a matter of time before I came up with something to write about, something involving them. It involves me, too. Hah! But that's not why I've got my inner "gatekeeper" turned on. I've got it turned on because I respect their privacy.

This goes against my long-standing feelings about writers, reporters and the media in general, withholding details. I have always had a gripe about gatekeeping. I've always been one to get the COLD HARD FACTS out there into the world, for all to see. The public has the right to know!

But the fact is, they don't NEED to know. Not every single detail, anyway. There are just SOME things that need to be kept private. Some things that a writer shouldn't go blabbing about to the whole world. As far as a celebrity, or even semi-celebrity, is concerned, they have a WORLD of concerns as far as what gets revealed to who. They have a reputation to either uphold, add to, or even salvage. They have a way of "working" their publicity. (That's the PR side talking!) And, yes, there ARE things they don't need revealed to the whole world. A little mystery about people only adds to their appeal. We don't REALLY know someone, but that's what draws more attention, more fans, and more publicity. That's the stuff that keeps their careers going. And I'm not going to take that all away by blabbing every single detail to the whole world. That will only bring them down, and that is not why I am writing about them in the first place.

So why do I want to write THIS article in particular? About THESE people, in particular? To promote them AND to give readers/their fans a taste of something they can't have: What it's like to be around them. I want to write about what it's like, but I won't write EVERYTHING. Some things are private issues that the world just doesn't need to know.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Making things official

A whole lot of different things can happen in a person's life. Some things occur with a huge dose of bravado and formality. Others occur with nothing in the way of making it "official," even if it may be something really big on a personal level.

And when we don't have anything going on to make something really important "official," we decide to take this matter into our own hands. We celebrate it, memorialize it with a photo or buy a souvenir.

Writing about things has a way of making things official, too.

That's what's happened with me recently. I was without a computer for a while and just played "touch and go" with my Internet activity for a while there. I would be online for 10 minutes at one time, or 30 minutes to a whole hour at another time, but I wasn't "officially" back on a computer. For this reason, I wasn't writing with a computer; I'd resorted to being a "kitchen table writer," literally sitting myself down at the kitchen table every day to write with pen and paper. (Heh, even when I couldn't move one time in a hospital was I still writing; I asked a nurse to dictate a poem I had in my head.) I wasn't used to writing with pen and paper all over again, but I still wrote.

One of the things I wrote came out automatically: Something that commonly happens every time I sit down to dinner with my daughter. This particular piece, an essay, pretty much centered on who exactly sits at my dinner table. And for the first time in my writings involving family life, my daughter's dad, now my ex-husband, wasn't there.

In some way, that itself made this new chapter of my life official. We'd been on our own for a few weeks by the time I sat down to write that essay, but writing something "family" related that had this "changed family" sort of really made the fact that life is different now "hit home."

Writing has that kind of effect. It's not exactly writing set in stone, but when you write about life when life is new, that in itself sets things in stone. It sort of "implants" in your heart that this is life as it is, right here, right now. This is the way things are, and writing about it, no matter how small or how big it is, gives that important part of your life more power.