Month: January 2012

I Cried Last Night, and Here’s Why

The exciting thing is that last night around one o’clock in the morning, I finished the first draft of my novella, Scales. It has clocked in at 48,000 words, about 10,000 more words than the other two novellas. I was getting very nervous as I kept watching the word count rise. This isn’t a novella anymore! I thought to myself. But I was wrong because a novella is not only defined by word count, but several other factors. I am not certain all three novellas I have written are spot-on novellas, but at least I tried! In the end, it doesn’t matter. They’re stories. Period.

I started Scales March of last year, so it’s been about a year. Can you believe it took me an entire year to write 48,000 words? Yeah, me neither. And here I’m thinking I can start my next book and finish it in six months. Nothing will keep me from trying! The truth is that 2011 was a really hard year for me. This year is already so much better, especially attitude-wise on my end.

So after this long, long year of getting other books ready for publication and trying to finish this little novella, I finally typed the last words last night. This has never happened, but I started crying. CRYING. I don’t exactly know why, but I swear it was one of the most intense writing moments of my life. It was like a dragon literally flew off my shoulders and left me with a feeling of immediate peace. This book has been especially painful for me to write, and I think it’s because it deals with some really deep issues I have – issues I have never breathed to a living soul. Since I cannot seem to speak about these issues with anyone, the only way I have found to deal with them is through my fiction. I think sometimes this is the only way any of us can deal with such deeply rooted things within ourselves. Stories have a way of touching us like nothing else, and writing this one has been a roller coaster for me. Now that the main part of the ride has stopped, I can finally breathe. I’ve discovered something about myself in this story. My hope is that others will discover something about themselves too.

Here’s to stories that make us cry. I hope they never stop coming.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Bonded, Books, 0 comments

There Are No Right Answers

michelle-d-argyle-monarch-coverI am still kicking myself for not bringing a camera to get a picture of the book group I visited this past week. I forgot to do this last time I visited a book group, as well. This particular one chose Monarch as their book for January, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled when they asked me to join them as their guest author. What made it even more special is that this group is based in my hometown and it has been a dream of mine to do things like this in the place I grew up. So thank you to Cari’s book group for such a wonderful evening.

One of the members was wearing a pretty butterfly necklace, which made me smile. We talked for nearly two hours about the book and answering questions from the reader guide. The best thing of all was sitting in a room with ten other people holding my book in their laps. It was a little surreal!

One thing I realized during the book discussion is something I’ve always know, but keep forgetting. The group passed around a jar of papers, each one with a question from the reader guide I mentioned above. The hostess for the evening joked that I would be able to tell them if their answers were correct. I laughed and said, “There are no right answers for these questions.”

And that is undeniably true.

Spending the evening with a roomful of readers has opened my eyes. I hang out with a lot of writers, so it was fascinating to see the different reactions to the book and the different answers given for each question. Everything discussed was untainted by a writing perspective, so some of the answers surprised me and brought even more depth to the story I had written – things I had never even considered before. I might even join this book group because I think I can learn a lot from spending time with everyday readers. What happens inside someone’s head when they read a story is an amazing thing. A story I create will always mean different things to every single reader, and I think that’s one of the most exciting things about being an author – knowing your story becomes bigger, different, and more unique with each different reader.

Visiting book groups is something I would love to keep doing throughout my career since it’s possible to do visits over Skype, as well as in person. My novels seem to lend themselves well to book groups. It’s exciting to find a little space where they fit!

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, Monarch, Working With Other Writers, 0 comments

How I Celebrate My Writing

I’ve spent my entire life creating things. When I look back on my most depressed times, I notice they were voids filled with no creating. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t taking photographs. I wasn’t drawing. I wasn’t doing anything to add something to the world, no matter how insignificant those little things might seem. So when I started writing again after a very long five-year break, I was excited, to say the least. I had spent those five years learning photography, but for me nothing seemed to compare to words on a page. So it’s only natural that I would want to celebrate that, right?

Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds, sadly, which I’m sure many of you might have discovered, as well. It seems like many artists spend more time criticizing their work than celebrating it. That’s a necessary step in the creative process, I think, and one nobody should skip. Looking at your work with a critical eye is imperative to growth. However, I do think there is something to be said about pure, raw celebration.

Some might say publication is the ultimate celebration of creativity. Publication. Showcasing. Whatever way there is to share art with the world. In a way, it is a great way to celebrate, but I don’t think it should be the ultimate way to celebrate. My husband is an actor, and when he’s on the stage, that’s his way of showcasing his talent and what he has created with a certain character. At the end of each performance, the audience claps. That’s a sort of celebration, but it’s not what the actors see as their own celebration because they always close the show’s run with a cast party. When my books are released, I throw a launch party. I used to think that was the best way to celebrate my work, but I was wrong. (Not that I’ll stop doing those. They have their place, for sure.)

I think there’s a way to celebrate in order to allow others to celebrate with us, but true celebration seems to happen on a completely private level, at least for me. I’ve noticed it’s not holding my book for the first time, nor is it typing The End, nor is it getting that first email from someone who truly appreciates my work. It’s something deeper, something that never ends.

cel·e·bra·tion/ˌseləˈbrāSHən/

Noun:
  1. The action of marking one’s pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social activity.
  2. A celebratory event or series of events.

For me, the first definition of celebration feels so finite, and almost shallow in a way, when I consider what I’m celebrating – something so integral to who I am. The second definition, however, opens up my thoughts and helps me understand that in order to truly celebrate my writing, I have to celebrate not the projects I accomplish, but the fact that I am creating things in the first place. I celebrate the creative process. And how do I do that? By creating more and more. I keep writing. I keep learning and growing.

So, in a lot of ways, celebration is motivation. My husband doesn’t do one play and then call it good. He’s constantly acting in plays. I’m constantly writing stories. It never ends, and I don’t want it to. I think that’s the ultimate celebration of our art – to keep creating. To never give up no matter what the outcome of each project. It’s definitely a motivation for me when I want to quit because I go through a spell thinking everything I create is awful. Instead of wallowing, I will celebrate.

Celebrate. Create. Live.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Think Positive, 0 comments