My little sister's short story that I am writing for her is now at 17 pages, single spaced: "La Bruja del Barrio Loco". Guess it's going to be a novella. Oops. Right now, the narrative is a little rushed, but it will be a great revising practice. I also have to flesh out Cindy a little more, and like always I added another story within the story, multiple sub-plots. That is one of my best and worst features. I always got called out on it in all of my creative writing classes, but I really think it's a Latino thing.
Anyway, I also ran into an old friend who is willing to do the cover of a novel. She is willing to do it for free, that gem of a human being. She actually already drew something I love using her ex's make-up. It looked haunted with faded colors and perfect for this piece, so I am going to send her the story link when I and done editing and revising. Who knows, she may be an ideal reader too! (I haven't asked my other friend. I will, soon. Been kind of embarrassed to do so.)
Here's to more writing highs and friends who make time for you.
You know what I'm talking about. Even if you produce garbage, and you don't know it, you get that amazing high from doing what you love. I'm still feeling it, even though I stopped writing around 9a.m.
I am also happy my new writing schedule is working out well. Today, I was pecking away at this story for my little sister. It wasn't quite the premise she wanted, but her story is still brewing somewhere in the deep seat of my subconscious. It's cooking.
So here are a few more pages: "La Bruja del Barrio Loco". I have to remember talk into the phone or type them quickly because I get these random great ideas, and then forget to write them. The little notebook never really worked for me, but sending myself little voice notes helps.
This weekend I also went on Amazon to support folks who are publishing digitally, and I bought two kindle works, one a 100 word anthology ($2.99) and a smutty short story ($2.99). The latter was written by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. I was surprised both works went for $2.99 and wondered how they came to setting the price. I am going above and beyond the call and review their works and link the reviews to my blog. Not surprising, there were no reviews to the smut short story. Guess folks don't want to admit they read that genre.
Believe in good karma and keep writing!
I spent a glorious day with my family and family friends at the Museum of Science and Industry, and for a few hours, forgot that Trump was president.
We also learned a lot about science, and I am teaching my children to love science and be creative (but not creative enough to make up Alternative Facts).
Unfortunately, I didn't finish the story I started on Saturday, but I have most of it mapped out in my head, and the main character could take some bitches out in a bar fight. I also picked my friend's brain who gave me some great insight into how arrests work. Prison sucks, and I managed to capture most of that pretty well.
Anyway, I did make some more changes to the story: La Bruja del Barrio Loco. I also think I found another ideal reader. I will ask her if she can read my drafts. She is an avid reader and buys almost all Kindle and audio books. She is also very smart, so we shall see. Tan tan TAN!
Well, I thought I was all bad ass and started writing my sister a short story based on a continued conversation we have been having. She explained the concept again over break, and I said, "Sure, I'll write it. You do the cover if it turns into my next novel."
I had been thinking about the plot and characters for some time. I finally started writing the short story yesterday, and I got the major plot line totally wrong. So I said, "Fuck it. There will have to be a part dos."
It's an unusual piece because it's not taking place in Arizona, but Chicago, so it's a bit of a breakthrough piece for me as far as short stories go. I tend to write about home, all the time (Except for The Harvest, oddly enough), and even though there is still some of the southwest in it, the story takes place in a neighborhood much like Little Village.
Anyway, I tried researching brujas and came up with nada, so it really is a work of fiction, although, I may pick my friend's brain who knows way more about this stuff. You can read the rolling draft, which I hope to finish tonight or tomorrow. You can read the Scribd file in the previous blog post.
And that is all because I have to keep grading. I spent most of yesterday writing because the kids were at a kid party. I did grade, just not full piles.
Hey, Little Sis, Most likely, I will have this story done by Monday. Then we can fine tune it!
You will have to read it on your computer or get the Scribd app. because the text is too long for my blog.
I am at 95 double-spaced pages of The Harvest: A Novel. I also shrunk the margins to 1 inch all around. That may seem like a small victory for some writers who spend hours and hours writing (I am jealous of you fuckers with all that time to write). However, the project is coming along and is mapped out better than the two times I wrote it in the distant past. OK like 20 years ago. This time, I am processing the novel, as a novel should be processed.
That is to say, I am practicing what I am teaching in my creative writing class and learned in past writing classes, which is why this meme of one of my favorite writers is so appropriate: Nothing Works Until You Do. You have to put the work into the thinking, brainstorming, mapping, writing, editing, revising, or else nothing gets done well. Sure, you can draft a novel, and believe me, I have written some crappy ones in the past.
I wrote one about a boy who was possessed by demon and was being helped by a Wiccan bookstore owner, which is so cliché. But, I killed the main character because no one could save him. Who does that? Poor planning. I also wrote a horrible novella one time about a medieval princess who became a zombie and was in love with a prince. Terrible, terrible.
Also, you have to kill the publication fantasies and write because you love the craft or find some other motivation to write. I really think I am finally getting work done because I am writing out of love and have nothing to prove. Plus, I have a steady job and don’t have to hustle to make a living, like some writers I know. I respect them and love their work, but if I had to feed my family on writing, my family and I would be on the bread line constantly. This doesn’t mean I will not hustle to sell books in the future, if I ever get anything in print, but that whole starving artist bullshit doesn’t work when you are my age with two small kids. You also don’t need to be starving or sell a story for a bottle of gin to craft good work.
Writing, like everything, is a process and motivations vary. I am trying to teach that to my students. Enough preaching.
Yesterday, somebody asked me why I changed the main character's gender, and the truth is that I am not entirely sure why. It just felt right. I think it's because I wanted an internal point of view in the post-apocalyptic world I am crafting. I also thought the conflicts and struggles would be more interesting coming from a girl in a matriarchal society.
Today, I also mapped out the genetic modifications in the novel, which is probably the more original aspect to the work. I sent the ideas to my little sister who is one of my avid reader, and she gave me some great suggestions. My sister is also my go to person for fight scenes, and I have an arena battle coming soon, but not yet for Ashley, the main character, because she is too young for the arena.
This week, I also got some more encouraging feedback from Adam, the editor of Down South Where the Water is Warm the short story collection I finished recently. He got so scared from reading "La Bruja" that he is treading slowly into the next short story of the collection. The truth is that one is the scariest story, and is maybe a little too influenced by Stephen King. The rest of the stories, even the horror ones, are really about the connections people make and their struggles. No matter if there are zombies or supernatural creatures, human beings are the most frightening beings and do the most horrific things to each other. Still, I can't wait until Adam reads the zombie stories and werewolf story (which should probably be a novel and may very well be.) You can read "Paranoia: The Corrido of Andrea Quinta" in my Current Work link which was published before in a zombie zine. I also added a funny poem to the Poetry Section.
I haven't done a weekly writing goal in a while because I have exceeded my writing goals. Here goes: (1) Write for at least an hour every day and (2) Start the short story "The Revenge of la Bruja del Barrio Loco" for my little sister.
Well, with that, I’m off to make my bread. I have been sick and fell behind on my work, work. Plus, I spent most of Friday hacking up a lung while attending long meetings. Now, I have narrative drafts to respond to and a pile of short stories to review! I am so excited to read my students’ work.
Love what you do. Enough said.
I guess I should ask my two avid readers what they would prefer. I am nearing 100 pages, and that is a lot of text to scroll down. I like the Scribd format of the file, but you can't read it on the phone, which sucks. My sister hasn't said what she prefers, and my husband reads the draft on the laptop, though I get more insight from reading out loud to him.
Still, I am on the perpetual hunt for that ideal reader to give me constructive feedback. Most of my writer friends really don't have time, and I don't have the plata to pay someone to read my work. Besides, I drafted these great beginning workshop questions that I really should follow myself or duh, give my husband.
Then the real torture will start with the revising. Did I mention that I was rewriting The Harvest for the third time? Technically, this version is not a revision, but I gleaned as many of the old good ideas for it. Some of the other characters are still in it, but they ring truer this time. I also have to flesh out the level mods for the social order the girls live in. Simpler is better, 1 through 5. Everything else is a capitalist trick. Well, it all is in this novel.
So, I am still nursing this cold, which sucks. Earlier I was in my writing groove with my new writing schedule (kapow), and my brain just stopped. It freaked me out, but it was just my body telling me to rest.
The writing schedule is working out beautifully. You know, how I know it works? It's seamless, and ideas are coming out at a great pace. Getting into this writing mode is effortless. (Don't hate me. I word vomit then become revision's bitch.)
The only slight block was this cold. I rarely get writer's blocks. This morning, I swear my brain went on strike. It said, "Look, I need to heal your busy body," and it quit. Literally. Full stop. Period.
That was the weirdest fucking thing ever. I can usually write no matter what, except for maybe through labor or a migraine, but I honored whatever happened, and took a short nap.
Ah well. I will peck away at the novel, this afternoon. I may actually go home early and evaluate more student drafts, but I hate being absent from work.
I am over the moon, though, because I got my first batch of short stories from my creative writing students, and I can't wait to read them! There are no big egos in my creative writing class, did I mention that? And the writing has been excellent and honest. Can't beat that.
You Struggling Writers, Persevere, Despite Blocks.
The title of my blog says it all. I have been struggling to eke out some writing time between my full-time job, union work, organizing, and family obligations. Also, we moved to the South Side of Chicago, which is awesome. South Side! The problem has been that we have to commute back to my son's old school That literally ate up all of my morning writing, which wasn't more than a couple of hours max, 30 minutes min. Today, I had an epiphany I've been toying with, and was like, "Screw it. Do it, or this novel will never get done!"
I am writing when the amazing husband drives me to work and when I'm in the car, as a passenger (duh). The kids are also strapped into their seats and usually entertained. Bonus!
Anyway, I wrote for over an hour today and finally had time to develop ideas. I posted the new additions to The Harvest link.
Guess what I am doing now? Writing some more. I will post those bits, if the restaurant WiFi allows.
Keep on! Keep writing. That is all. SAD.
Well, it was more like an 8a.m. text. Part of it said, "Just read 'La Bruja". That is some truly scary shit Jesú!" I am glad I could make your heart go pitter-patter on Valentine's Day.
He is trudging through my collection of short stories and is now on Part 2, and I can't wait to get his real feedback. :)
That is all I have. I have two large piles of essays and short stories to grade this week, but I will try to sneak in some writing between breaks.
Dr. Jesú Estrada,