A. F. Waddell



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Semi-Deep Thoughts: On Writing

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Bell-Bottom Blues

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Semi-Deep Thoughts: On Writing

In becoming a writer I gave myself permission to imagine and dream, to open myself up to (allegedly) strange and unusual thoughts. This could be an alarmingly easy task (compared to turning off the censor in my head). I’d consider the thoughts, finding that some ideas should be immediately suppressed, or stomped upon and killed, while others should be utilized, and could take off like wildfire. The trick was to know the difference. This process took intuition, practice, and feedback. I tried to keep plenty of these around.

If as a writer I was feeling restless or stuck, I tried multiple projects to realize what genuinely engaged me. One practical philosophy was to let the words age. I’d put them aside for a while on a hard drive or in a desk drawer. I'd later come back to the words. Yes, they were still there! Were they a desirable, respectable, well-organized group of words, or did they suck? The aging process could reveal such.

Not a few writers benefited from internet exposure, as did I. Message boards, web sites, and writers groups proved a training ground of sorts. Positive feedback and rejection were a comment, or an email, away. When the words moved through my brain and fingertips, I’d often experience the Compulsive Need to Post. I’d take a deep breath and count to one hundred. Were these words ready to be shared with the world? Sure, the Instapost felt good at the moment, but later one might feel differently. Considering there was no 'Take It All Back Now' clickable icon, what was done might linger (or might be TOSed).

The words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters were now posted online. What kind of response was I getting, if any, and how did I feel about that? In the case of no response, I tried to not take it personally. In the case of mockery and harassment, ditto. I’d found my voice. Some wanted me to lose it.

In the internet glut, one’s writing could be seemingly ignored, lost, buried in unimaginably vast cyberspace, similar to outer space, where no one can hear you scream. I also wondered if people could relate to the work, or not. Did the tone or subject matter of the work possibly make some people uncomfortable? Well, of course.

The responses to my online writing were coming in. I was getting a buzz and making new acquaintances. I came to dread the Post Posting Blues, when the enthusiastic responses would stop. The truth is that the positive feedback can’t last forever. Writers must keep working. I realized that in the end, writing should be its own reward.

Having written primarily humor and essay, I subsequently joined a well-known writers' group which penned erotica. I began to write stories that I couldn’t have earlier imagined. 

Independent publishers and anthology projects seemed to be thriving –­ and could provide quality venues for struggling writers. It could be motivational for writers to have such a potential anthology framework for their work.

It was said that erotic literature was on an upswing. We sometimes seem to forget that Eros was excised from many classic works. So-called erotica had become somewhat déclassé: people tend to disregard the fact that writers might write well - or badly - in any genre.

I’d decided to submit more work to print publishers, so that my words might exist in a so-called real book that existed on a real shelf. How to break through into that magical circle of published authors? I agonized. I didn’t know how. At least, do the work and submit it. Repeat, repeat . . .

I researched the writing markets, not a difficult task in an age of informational overload. I tried to keep my original voice and inspiration and forget about set­-in-stone genres. I went for joy and originality, and writing about what I knew and loved. My first print publication was a road story inspired by Callie Khouri’s Thelma and Louise. I love film. Good energy went into the piece. I was pleased that my editors happened to be film lovers.

It is believed that to be published in our vast, glutted market of diverse writers, a writer should likely possess a few of the following qualities: excellence, originality, unique perspective and a common touch. Don't forget luck. A little luck is sometimes the best plan.

Over time authors seemed to consciously and unconsciously teach me, filtering into my soul as if by osmosis. Things went click in my head. I had flashes of intuition that I, too, could be a writer­­ - and flashes of extuition: "Silly! You could never do that!" said my internal dream ­stomper. 

It would be a while before I gave myself permission to assertively express myself on the page. The upside is that I gained life experience before I naively wandered into the fray and struggled into print. I'm glad that I waited. I think.