This is the paranormal blog of author Lynda Hilburn, http://www.lyndahilburnauthor.com
Friday, December 31, 2004
New Year's Eve Musings
Well, here it is. The turning of another year. It seems like only yesterday . . . What have I accomplished this past year? Did I meet my goals? Did I give and receive enough love? Are the answers to my existential questions any clearer?
It's been a rough couple of months. As often happens (does it happen because I believe it will happen?), many of my private practice clients go away for the months of November and December, or they turn their attention to celebration and creating the family traumas which will be the topics of our January discussions, or they simply put self-growth on the back burner. In any event, things are quiet for me. Even the classes I teach for a university are out of session for three weeks. My son is grown and I haven't invited a new man into my life. Not sure if I will. Sometimes the quiet is very loud.
I try to write every day. Even if I erase whatever I wrote the day before. The anthology I wrote the short story for got so many submissions that they've pushed back the date of notification by a month. Immediately upon hearing that they had so many entries to read, I assumed mine wouldn't be selected. I've read it over and over again in recent days, positive now that it has little merit. If I believe that, I wonder how I had the courage to send it to them to begin with? It's a schizophrenic feeling. One minute I'm hopeful, madly writing and submitting. Then the voices of self-doubt whisper in my ear, followed by the absolute certainty that every word I've put on paper is crap. If it's true that many writers are a little crazy, I might have finally found a place where I belong.
I've enjoyed the books, tapes and presentations of Motivational Speaker Esther Hicks for many years and want to recommend her latest book. The book, "Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires," is co-written by Esther and Jerry Hicks. Esther's message centers on the vibrational nature of the universe and that we attract what we focus on/give attention to (good nor not). Her work takes the notion of "you create your own reality" out of vague positive thinking into the realm of quantum physics. If you liked the movie, "What the Bleep Do We Know?" you'll love Esther's work even more. Powerful and idea-changing information. Her website is: www.abraham-hicks.com
Help! I'm being held prisoner by the dreaded Outer Validation!
I sit in the chair, generous posterior plopped, gelatin-like, on the seat cushion. And I stare at the computer screen. Meaning to write. Intending to write. Pretending to write. Then I answer email, fuss with my blog and website some more, and get swept away by some absolutely fascinating bit of internet ridiculousness. You know what it is, doncha? It's the Outer Validation thing. The trap that closes around us when we do things for the approval of others. The world. Friends. Family. Peers. Authority figures. Yeah, those others. When I was caught up in Contest Mania, entering things left and right, and getting lots of the highly-touted Outer Validation, I was writing like a madwoman. Rising early. Up late. Fingers speeding on the keys, soul aflame with passion, ideas dripping from my ears (assuming the leak originated in my brain, somewhere). Getting requests for chapters -- Nirvana. Excited emails to friends and crit partners. Encouraging emails returning. A life-force-arousing experience. Aliveness. Then I entered the waiting period. The months I expected to get lots of writing done while awaiting the Wonderful News. No outer validation. OK. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I'm a psychotherapist, and I should know better than to think that anything is OUT THERE. That I ought to remember that all validation -- truly -- is self validation. Yeah, yeah. Yada yada. Just because I know that stuff intellectually doesn't mean that I'm one whit better at dealing with it than anyone else. So, I guess I get to find out whether I can jump-start my motivation -- re-ignite my inner pilot light -- or if I'll remain a slug until I get some encouraging news? And, in the meantime, I keep collecting submission possibilities for my file called "places to send my books and stories to." Now, if I only had the books and stories finished to send.
I wrote a weekly column -- The Psychic Counselor -- in a local newspaper for a few years until the publication went out of business, and I haven't been able to find another print outlet. So, I decided to take the column to a blog. It's sort of a cosmic Dear Abby, combining my intuitive/empathic abilities, my training in counseling and my love of writing. If you have a burning question about relationships, life changes, spiritual matters or emotional issues, visit that blog, read through the questions and answers in the archives, and send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you: http://thepsychiccounselor.blogspot.com.
I long ago gave up the pretense of creating New Year's Resolutions. Like most people, the diets I began on January 1st usually limped along for a couple of weeks before the deeply-ingrained patterns spawned by my sugar addiction, and my masterful excuses for not exercising, reasserted themselves and took me down. Did you notice that I worded that last sentence to give the impression that there is something to BLAME for my lack of self-control? That a finger could rightfully be pointed? That it had nothing to do with my own moment-to-moment choices? I may be as clever as the next woman at describing my victimhood, but I actually do know better. I get that I'm the chooser. The hand lifting the brownie to my lips is definitely attached to the rest of me. The eyeballs that display a laser-like ability to seek out New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream, no matter how frosted over the glass case in the grocery store might be, are truly mine. And I hear that my hands and eyes are connected to my brain in some mysterious way. One little aside, while I'm thinking of it: did you know that fat creates estrogen? Or as a very young, very skinny physician's assistant told me at my last gyn checkup when we were discussing my progress through the Mystical Land of Menopause, "It's a good thing you have some extra fat. That way your body will continue to manufacture estrogen." Well, there you have it. The much-anticipated Silver Lining of Fat. Also, if anyone would've told me that if I count the years I was pre-menopausal, then throw in the peri-menopausal years, then tack on the big enchilada itself, that I'd be in some form of psychic meno-trauma for 15 years, I'd have jumped off of something. I guess it's the same theory as already-mothers never telling unsuspecting future-mothers what it's REALLY like to go through childbirth.
Anyway, the intentions for 2005 I'm talking about in this post are my writing intentions. My main project, The Vampire Shrink, a 100,000-word paranormal w/romance elements and humor will either be requested by the publishing house that already has 3 chapters/synopsis, or by another house high on my list of desirable places for my book to be born to the world. And, if the agent who has the 3 chapters/synopsis isn't interested at this time, I'll roll up my sleeves, do more research, and find more appropriate candidates. My short story, "A Legend in Her Own Mind," about a self-absorbed female vampire who has a Brief Encounter of the Hunky Kind, will either be picked up by the anthology I wrote it for, or another of the many places I'm just starting to explore. I'm going to write a short story (paranormal) to target a house that puts out ebooks and short stories. Then, I'm going to write yet another short story (I didn't know I liked writing short stories, but turns out that I gain great satisfaction from actually finishing something without torturing myself for months first!) for a romance contest. This will be my first attempt at real, undiluted, one heroine/one hero, happy ending romance. I'm looking forward to it.
Yeah, sure. Well, I can forgive myself for making up reasons why I haven't heard back from the various submissions I've made yet. Actually, in the case of the publisher and agent who requested my 3 chapters and synopsis, it has only been 2.5 months. So, I can't reasonably get antsy. But I'm not a reasonable person, I guess. I am to the point of having a flash-of-fear reaction every time I open my mailbox, hoping I won't find the dreaded envelope containing my returned chapters. Or, in the case of the email submission I made, I momentarily cringe when opening my email box. Are all writers such nervous nellies? Or maybe it's the part of me that loves to bask in the illusion of control. Or, maybe the delusion of control. I also sent off a short story to be considered for an anthology and should hear something within the next 30 days. I'm exploring other options, just in case.
This is definitely a reality check. I think I got a false impression of the nature of things by winning the first contest I entered, and missing finaling in the next two contests by one- and five-points respectively. I thought, gee. This isn't so hard. Right. Then, in the next contest, I got one really nasty series of comments from one of the judges (the not having one h/h thing again), and crucified by one judge in yet another contest for being too introspective. Apparently, the Writing Goddess has decided to show me the other side of the coin. That's OK. I've decided to take a break from contests (is that sour grapes or wisdom, I wonder??), unless they have a "with romance elements" category. Gotta go check the mail now.
The past year -- which is the length of time I've been seriously working on my various fiction projects -- has been stressful, exciting and confusing. I've learned so much from all the generous and talented writers I've met through various paranormal and RWA lists. It took me a while to understand just how many different categories of fiction there are.
Do I write Paranormal Fiction? Paranormal Romance? Fantasy? Fantasy Romance? Time Travel? Science Fiction? Futuristic? Chick Lit? Women's Literature? Mainstream?
I can't really say I write traditional romance, because -- as I've been informed many times, in contests and in discussions -- I don't have one heroine/one hero and a happy ending. My heroine just doesn't like to be tied down to one man. (Not to say that I won't write a traditional romance at some point.) In my current WIP (a contemporary paranormal w/romance elements, suspense elements and a modern tone that lends itself to chick lit), my main female character actually has equal affection for two different males. She might even have sex with both of them -- I don't know yet -- she hasn't told me.
So, maybe I'm writing paranormal chick lit?Well, except that my heroines tend to be around age 30, and even though they live in urban settings, they aren't very interested in shopping. In fact, there's nary a mention of shoes in anything I write.
Well, what's the difference between chick lit and romance? And what about the paranormal stuff? Good questions.
I can only speak for myself. Seems to me that the focus in romance is, well, romance. The story revolves around the relationship between the H/H and the nice outcome. In chick lit, I think the story revolves around the unfolding/growth/journey of the main female character. She probably has romance and sex, or she might go off and climb some mountain (literal or metaphorical), but the focus is on her.
I'm influenced by Laurell K. Hamilton's series of Anita Blake books. She has an interesting cast of characters, and various relationship/mystery elements in each installment. If I remember correctly, the Anita character didn't have sex for several books (of course, now she's making up for all that lost time). She couldn't decide between the 2 men in her life for quite a while. Her books don't fall into the category of "romance," but her relationship with Jean-Claude is pretty damn toe-curling for me.
Maybe I write mainstream contemporary paranormal fiction w/romance and suspense elements. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Well, wait a minute. Did I mention that my book is written in first person, with a tendency toward flow-of-consciousness, introspective dialog and an intention of being humorous?