I couldn’t decide today between earth and sky, so you get both. Shades of blue.

If I haven’t mentioned, writing fiction is really fun.

(Well, except when it’s miserable, but that’s a whole other set of issues.)

Really I mean that writing fiction is fun compared to nonfiction. I started out as an essayist because that kind of voice came naturally to me. And there’s satisfaction in telling those kinds of stories. True stories about life and people, the things we experience. Once this new novel is complete, I might spend a little time writing or revising some essays, just to get my hand in again.

Then again, I might not. Because writing fiction is really run.

It’s fun like reading is fun. You know that feeling you get, when you’re reading a book you love, and your mind is sunk in that story, that world, that voice? I get that writing fiction. When its going right, my mind returns to the story and the characters over and over through the day and I would absolutely stay up all night to finish reading it.

If only I’d finished writing it, that is.

It’s an odd sensation, because that aspect of writing feels more like self-love, like navel-gazing, than any other. Like I’m so in love with the sound of my own voice that I want to listen to it all the time. Perhaps this is why so many writers like to ascribe their inspiration to muses or other outside storytellers.

“It’s not me, I just write down the story as it comes to me.”

Loving Calliope or Erato feels more wholesome than loving the sound of one’s own voice. Besides, as we all know, that way leads to insanity for writers. Ego is the eternal danger.

Amusingly, the last time I used the “insanity” label on this blog, I accidentally typed my heroine’s name when I logged in that morning, instead of my password. Which is exactly what I did today.

At least I’m consistent in the way my thoughts run?

Just so long as it’s not a foolish consistency, which leads to hobgoblins and all manner of obnoxious creatures. I’m pretty sure hobgoblins are not the new zombies, which were the new angels, which were the new vampires.

I know, it’s hard to keep up.

A Thousand Words

The desert four o’clocks are in full bloom, lighting up the landscape with their intense purple.

Turns out that the New Mexico Tourism Department is running a photo contest. I think I’ll enter, just for kicks. (No, not with this photo.) I can enter five, so if any of you have opinions on the pics you like best, let me know! I put all my best photos on the blog here, so I’ll likely pick from those.

I don’t expect you to troll through the entire blog archive, unless you’re really excited to to it. The New Mexico photos start almost exactly one year ago, which is a serendipitous coincidence, with I’m Just Wild About Harry in June 2009.

After that week, you’d have to skip into July, for the house-hunting trip beginning with Our Eight Lovely Finalists (which are only pictures of houses). Then it’s to August and Dances with Quail.

Yeah, I got sucked into reading those old posts. Such with the navel-gazing.

You’d be well-advised just to look through the photos. Or not. BUT, if someone suggests a photo and it wins anything, I’ll give you a prize. A gift-certificate to Ten Thousand Waves or to the indie bookstore of your choice.

See? It’s not always about writing.

Although, I can’t help but notice that the saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I write at least a thousand words a day. That means one photograph is the same as writing my 1K?

Yeah, not so much.

We need to reevaluate that saying.

There Is No "I" in Book

A bit of Spring sunset tumult from last night. As with many things, it brewed up to be a big deal, but really produced very little.

Allison and I were talking about self-absorption yesterday. Self-involvement. Narcissism.

These terms get tossed at writers quite often. And usually, I think, by the people who want the writer to be paying attention to them, rather than to what they’re writing. I ended up telling Allison that she’d been necessarily self-involved in completing her Revisions from Hell in record time.

Then I realized, that’s not true at all.

She hasn’t been self-involved; she’s been absorbed in her work. Writers drew the unlucky straw of doing an awful lot of their work in their heads, in dreamy states that are arguably other planes of existence. It tends to make them unavailable for paying attention to the people around them, which can lead to rancor.

Blogging and memoir-writing – often the same thing – are also targets for the self-involvement critics. “Navel-gazing” they love to call it. If that’s so, would going back and reading one’s own blog posts be navel-gazing at navel-gazing?

I say no.

Once you produce the writing, it becomes something outside yourself. It’s art. A painting is not the artist’s self. A symphony is not the musician’s self. An elegant bit of code is not the programmer’s self. All of these things, to varying degrees, do reflect the person who created them.

It’s an interesting thing to me, as I’ve mentioned before here, to go back and read my older blog posts. I particularly like playing “this time, last year.” The May 27 post from last year is full of sadness about getting a “no” from the agent I really had set my hopes on. Quite a bit has changed for me in that time – my strategy, how I’m going about things.

What non-writers may not realize is, reading your own work rarely feels like a familiar thing. I’m often surprised by what I’ve written before. People have quoted my work to me and I failed to recognize it – which irritates them. I understand why it would, but it’s lovely that they’re quoting something I wrote. It just no longer sounds like a piece of me. It has its own life.

So, Allison, I take it back. You haven’t been self-involved at all. You’ve been involved in your book.

And that’s an admirable thing.