Kelly Flowers

writer


Leave a comment

How NOT To Write A Novel – Crafting

I would be remiss in not posting our latest Halloween. Because these projects chunk out my productivity in such enjoyable ways.

DSC_0600DSC_0610

I hate to admit that costuming scratches a domestic itch in my undomestic soul. Now, to channel that creative energy into editing… still editing. Argh. Groan. Complain. Need caffeine.

Advertisements


5 Comments

How NOT To Write A Novel – No Pressure, No Progress

Writing, for most, is not their day job. I do write for a living and therefore feel entitled to this sketchy analogy.

Writing for work (aka your day job) and writing for fun (aka your literary masterpiece) are like having a child or a puppy, respectively. With your child, you have a schedule. School, dentists, doctors and soccer games. If you don’t make your deadlines, you’ll have CPS or a truancy board after you.

But your novel is like a puppy. It was a choice that brings you great joy and anguish and tests your discipline and resolve. And you can be as diligent as you want (as long as you feed it) If you do a lazy job raising your puppy, you’ll just have a jerk of a dog.

After a long day of parenting, training a puppy doesn’t rank high on the joy list. Just as, after a long day of work, carving out a couple hours to work on our manuscript sounds exhausting (especially if you’re STILL editing 😞)

It’s easy to put it off. And then put it off again. Because there’s always tomorrow, right?

Welllllll, let me tell you the difference between work writing and hobby writing for me.

DEADLINES.

deadlines

This is great if you are UBER disciplined. You have probably already put yourself on a schedule. You’re probably already adhering to your deadlines. (Good. For. You.) and (Whatever.)

But if you’re like me, Continue reading


Leave a comment

How NOT To Write A Novel – To Plan or Not To Plan, That is The Question

tmhnksI began writing a book the way you probably shouldn’t. I sat down and thought, “Hey let’s describe this cool place” and “let’s develop this random character. Yes, this is fun. Look at me! Writing a book!”

I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t even have a plot! There was a character I really liked so I started to write around him and brainstormed as I went. Geniuses write this way, I’m told. I, however, am not a genius so what this produced from me was lots of pretty dribble. I can say that now. And the problem is, it took me a long time to figure out that it was dribble. (I am comforted by the fact it was pretty dribble at least).

There are a thousand ways to go about writing a book. I’ve polled a small population of authors and come to this…

You can Plan. Plan. Plan. Engineers-turned-writers work this way. They chart their course and check their charts and set sail under a favorable moon. The danger in this is that some never set sail at all. Or that its not all that captivating.

Then there’s the creative types, writing freestyle, letting their inner genius keep them afloat in the open ocean. Everyone wants to be this type, I think. I know I did. Partially because I’d love to discover I happened to be a genius and just didn’t know. And also because, I realize now, I’m lazy.

Write an outline and a bunch of character profiles?

Bah. Just start writing and see where it takes you.

Scrawl a bunch of different story arcs? Character arcs?

Isn’t it more fun to just sit down and write? I mean, this is supposed to be fun, right?

As you can see, I had a lot to learn. I do have to say, having employed this method, it kept me going. If I reached a snag in my storyline, no problem. I’d just skip it. I’ll figure it out later, I’d say. Now, let’s describe this weather. (#FunnyNotFunny) But what I was left with was lots of meandering description and no pace. And it is ALL ABOUT PACE. And here I am, post humorously trying to write my story arc and plot points. And you know what, I’m going to be rewriting A LOT.

A friend of mine has an interesting writing technique. She writes half the book, then writes beats (the chapter by chapter synopsis of what is happening) and then she rewrites the whole thing, like new characters, new plot, everything!

“All that time wasted!” I said when she told me her method. “No,” she said. “This is my process. It’s how I write a better book.” So I started to think about that. There have been times I’ve wanted to start all over. Literally, scrap this book and start fresh. That, my friends, is also laziness. Because the real grief is in the editing.

And what constitutes wasted time anyway? What is a long time to write a book? Some people do it in a month. (#NaNoWriMo) Some prolific authors turn out a new book every few months and they’re best sellers. Some craft their masterpiece for years, boiling their ideas down to syrupy delicious prose. If you finish a book… and it is good, is any of your blood sweat and tears (and more tears) wasted?

If you’re like me, you’ve read about Stephen King’s method and Diana Gabaldon’s method and Elizabeth Gilbert’s method. Prolific, best selling authors to learn from. And there is still no right way. We just have to do it wrong a few times until we find the easiest way.

Onward…

laziness meme

 


Leave a comment

When Art Is As Gross As A Naked Emperor.

mic drop 2

I want to be a quirky, creative artist. And I want to be brave about the quirkiness, about the art. I want to drop the mic so bad. You know, like after I get the courage to actually pick it up.

Back to New Years resolutions… I know what you’re thinking. You’re STILL working on those! It’s July! B-O-R-I-N-G. And you would be right. I am.

I set out this year to soak up creative people mojo, to absorb them, to osmosis-ly grow brave, because that is what creativity requires.

My teenage years scared the weird out of me. Now I have a snarky mean girl on my shoulder telling me how lame this or that is. I cling to social constructs. It’s hard to unlearn.

But I miss my weird. I want my weird back. I’m working on that, committed to being open-minded. So I’m doing stuff that makes me open-minded-ish. Like seeking out the artists.

Where is the line of open-minded and just knowing what’s vulgar base atrocious yuck. Do I have to “appreciate” art I can’t stand just because it’s art?

Fashion, for instance. Is that God-awful runway outfit valuable because it’s part of a new fall line? (I actually have no idea what I’m talking about because fashion confounds me. Yes. Choosing this analogy was a dumb. Onward.)

I like poetry. And bravery. So I like poetry readings. Watching them, I mean. Because I like other people’s bravery.

So, a friend and I go to a little bookshop for a poetry reading. (someday, I will graduate to doing these kinds of things alone). A man approaches the mic. He looks like my old neighbor, the accountant. His name was maybe Doug or Peter. He even stands like maybe-Doug-or-Peter… staunch, slovenly but confident. The I-could-care-less-what-you-think-and-therefore-don’t-shave look.

When the poet speaks, the words pirouette. They’re fluid, a puzzle of sounds. Subtle rhyme from line to every other line. His pace is halting, rushing, pulling back. A tide. I hunch in my seat for what promises to be a work of magnificence.

But it is all about a stream of “piss”.

Okay okay. Suspend judgement. I think. This is celebrated literary art. Open-minded, remember?

The man proceeds to describe a penis, words sashaying together. Words like flaccid, fleshy. Um…

I’m trying not to retract. It’s a siege for my prim mind. Stay present, I tell myself but I can’t help wondering if this guy is somehow related to my old neighbor. I have no idea what ever happened to that guy. Didn’t he move to New Mexico?

The poem is building to a crescendo.

What does this guy do with his days? I muse. Is he an accountant or cable company representative or professor? Does he have a wife who raves about his vivid descriptions of male genitalia, who discusses his work over a glass of Malbec?

Piss. Piss. Piss. It’s every other word. The mother in me winces.

Art is supposed to make us feel something. Conflicted, disgusted, confused? So, is this success?

And yet, I feel wrong about it. Like I’m getting it all wrong. Fine art has a clever way of projecting its own insecurity onto me. Like, am I just too shallow to get this? Am I just too foolish to see the emperor’s clothes? Surely, there is a social theme here that, if I were more scholarly, I’d pick up. What does the penis represent? The hand around it? The peeing? Or is it only acclaimed because it’s gross, because it pushes the line of social etiquette? So its graphic nature makes it raw, groundbreaking. Is that what we’re going for here?

Artists have the self-appointed obligation to scoff at hoi polloi opinion. Artists are more evolved, both more and less desensitized, and the masses are asses. Pollock, Warhol, Picasso. Marilyn Manson, Jimmy Fallon, Lady Gaga, penis-obsessed poet. It’s all art.

There’s a panel out there deciding what art is fine and what’s commercial. Those people have art degrees. And there are people who probably “appreciate” it, even if they don’t like it, because that’s what they’re supposed to do. Especially if only a distinct population likes it. Commercial success is the demise of the edgy artist. They’re not starving for their art.

The bigger the audience, the less fine the art. But what is art without an audience? And who decides this stuff? Obviously, not people like me.

There. That’s what I mean. Kind of. I think.

After the reading, a fellow audience member asked what I thought. Do you think I told him that I was honestly just grossed out? Nope. I said something like “interesting” or “different” or “the prose were elegant.” Because I’m not even brave enough to be the one to point out that the emperor has no clothes! Ack!

So, my exercise in bravery is going well.

Head in Hands

 


Leave a comment

Poem: Peaches

Outside, the peaches hang heavy in the wind,

their fresh skin, sunsets of color.

Until the fruit rots in piles on the lawn. 

After the winter we had

I was sure the tree was dead.

And I was enraged at the infertility of the world.

But this spring, buds split from the skeletal branches.

A thousand innocent questions.

Like they didn’t even know

The life they consume.

I was enraged at the imbalance of fertility in the world.

Peach trees are deciduous. 

Hiding from the cancer of snow 

But they revive, a Lazarus of fruit 

Their blooms sweeter for their pain

Last year, when the peaches hung in passels over the grass

I baked and canned and sauced

Sat on the porch and pressed

little moons of nail marks into the skin

I pushed my fingers through the flesh

To the heart of each

And piled the stones like a cairn on the top stair.

Peach cobbler, peach tarts, peach jam and chutney. 

Peach curry sauce for porkchops.

Peach schnapps for the late fall evenings. 

By then, you wouldn’t eat anything I cooked.

But I kept the house smelling like the living.

I kept the oven running so you wouldn’t feel the draft of autumn.

 

There were crates of peaches 

sitting on the porch

Rotting faster than I could save them.

I was enraged at the waste in the world.

Your eyes followed me in the kitchen.

The language of disapproval.

Come sit with me, you’d say.

Just as the timer stopped,

I’d run to the oven, 

Stand a moment too long in the heat of its open door

Wishing that intimacy didn’t make me uncomfortable 

That I had more time to learn how to love the right way

To not be enraged at the barrenness of the world.


Leave a comment

Remember College Poetry?

Ahhh college, a time of hubris and risk-taking and, in my case, poetry. From previous blogs Couldn’t Just Sign Your Name, Huh? and Skeletons (aka journals) In My Closet, you might have gathered that poetry has always been a pastime of mine but college was an especially prolific time.

And what is poetry tucked away in your college notebooks? Mummified. Dead. Kindling. Wasted Space. So I dug one out, for old time’s sake, because a tree that falls in the forest…

—–

It Dwells There Still

A house, patchwork doors and eaves

Curtains starving for wind and crumpled magazines

Where the bickering of flames was hot upon the snow

And a dark exhale set out against the brittle light

A house

Smoke snuffing at a noonday sun

Blankets to ash

I dwell there still

The fire I lit

It burned for days

A body opened up to the sky

Charred bones reaching up from snow

It dwells in me

Where tongues of flame licked threadbare walls

Till they were clean and sanctified

Feet washed in tears and dried in hair

A single spark would dance upon the empty shells

The house I dwell within

——–

Aaaaand scene!


Leave a comment

Book Excerpt: Gone Dark

The knock at the door made Aiden jump. It seemed like he had barely closed his eyes. But when he looked toward the blackout curtains, a shard of light was breaking through. The knock came again. 

“No thank you!” he yelled. Did the housekeeper not see the Do No Disturb hanger on the door? 

“Um. Hello?” Aiden sat straight in bed. It was the voice from the machine last night. No. This time it really was Sam.

“Hold on!” he yelled and pulled himself to stand. “Just give me a minute. It’ll just be a second.” His brain was fogged and slow.

He reached for the khaki shorts neatly folded over the back of the desk chair and then shook his head. The mirrored closet door opened easily, hit the wall and rebounded slightly. He knew he’d be hot in the jeans he grabbed from his suitcase but he didn’t care. He popped a shirt off its hanger and when he closed the closet door, his reflection surprised him. 

In the low light, he looked older, more angry. He looked like his father. 

The shirt wasn’t even over his head before he reached for the chain on the door. 

“Sorry,” Sam said looking him over nervously. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

Aiden looked at the bedside table. The clock read 9:14. 

“It’s fine,” he said. “I was up a little late. Um.” He looked around. “Do you want to come in?”

Sam shrank slightly. “Yeah. I guess.” 

He held the door for her and she hesitated as she stepped into the dark room.

“Hold on,” he said. Pinning the door open with the chair, he walked to the curtains. When he opened them, the day was thick with sunshine. The heat of it hit him in the face and burned his eyes.

When Aiden turned back to the door, he almost gasped. She was beautiful, standing there in the light. Her skin was the color of soap; her hair wavy and fluid like desert sandstone. Continue reading